The Leitmotif of “Belonging” in Eugen O'Neill's the Hairy Ape

2391 Words10 Pages
In this paper I will show the significance of the leitmotif of “belonging” in Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape. I will argue that as soon as Yank gets confronted with Mildred the whole play becomes a search of Yank for his place to “belong”, his own right place in society, and in his life, to stay. I will furthermore show that Yank's sense of “belonging” changes during the course of his search. This leitmotif is significant because it shows humanity's ever lasting struggle : “The Hairy Ape was [...] a symbol of a man, who has lost his old harmony with nature, the harmony which he used to have as an animal and has not yet acquired in a spiritual way. Thus, not being able to find it on earth nor in heaven […] The subject here is the same ancient one that always was and always will be the one subject for drama, and that is man and his struggle with his own fate. The struggle used to be with the gods, but is now with himself, his own past, his attempt to ' belong.' ” (Diggins 76) First of all, we must specify what exactly is meant with “belonging” to understand what this paper is exactly aiming at. I collected the definitions of “belonging” from different dictionaries to find the appropriate one that fits the use of “belonging” in Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape. Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Ed. Vers. 4.0 (2009) : belong, v. 4. a. To be connected with in various relations; to form a part or appendage of; e.g. to be a member of a family, society, or nation, to be an adherent or dependent of, to be a native or inhabitant of a place; to be a dependency, adjunct, or appendage of something; to be one of a generation or time. Also const. to, †unto. 1601 Shakes. Twel. N. v. i. 9 Belong you to the Lady Oliuia, friends? 1856 Sat. Rev. II. 189 Mr. Pierce belongs to New Hampshire. 1922 D. H. Lawrence England (1924) 232 He was still in the choir of Morley

More about The Leitmotif of “Belonging” in Eugen O'Neill's the Hairy Ape

Open Document