Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 2 February 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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Voice of the Voiceless: Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape and
George Ryga's Indian

A Comparative Study

Diwakar Thomas, M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.

Importance of Comparative Literature

Comparative literature is a literary discipline and ought to be recognized as a vital academic activity of the modern age. Etymologically, the term "Comparative Literature" means any literary work that compares. Such a comparison could be in terms of structure, style or philosophic vision. The concept of self- enclosed national literature is becoming outmoded as well as harmful even from the aesthetic point of view. It tends to blur our vision and conventionalise our responses. "We need both national and general literature, we need both literary history and criticism and we need the wide perspective which only comparative literature can give!"1 states Rene Wellek.

The primary aim of Comparative Literature is to widen one's perspective by discovering certain dominant trends in literature and culture. Even a single literature course may be illuminated by comparative insights. Certain insights become all the more valuable not because they are repeated, but they are rediscovered on a new context. If authors, taking divergent roads, arrive at the same truth, they become universal.

The Problem of Belonging

Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape (1921) and George Ryga's Indian (1962) deal with the basic problem of belonging. The theme of these plays may be summed up as man's endless striving to belong. The protagonists' story is in a way the story of Everyman, because each individual in some way or other, shares this human predicament. In an interview given in 1932 O'Neill insisted on this saying. "Yank is really your self and myself."2 Like Yank, the protagonist of the play Indian, the nameless Indian is a universal symbol; the name of any oppressed man can be his name.

Some Structural Elements of The Hairy Ape

The Hairy Ape, written in eight short and abrupt scenes tells the story of a steamship's super stoker, Yank. He discovers his shortcomings from a chance meeting with one of the passengers, a cultured and wealthy Mildred. He has so far considered himself as the Atlas of the world, but stung by Mildred's revulsion at his greasy appearance, he leaves his job and goes forth to find a place where he can belong. He decides further to avenge himself on those who have destroyed his self- confidence by their superiority. But Yank finds he cannot even avenge himself on the rich.

Finally in his puzzled despair, he reaches the gorilla's cage in the zoo and discovers he has no place even in the brute world as the beast crushes and tosses him to the cage, where he dies behind the bars. O'Neill concludes the grim drama with the comment. "And perhaps the Hairy Ape at last belongs."

Problems of Machine Age Becomes the Focus

A close examination of the play reveals that there is a definite suggestion in the play. It deals with some of the problems which are of the machine age. The actual problem of Yank is not material but psychological. Even though he has a family he is alone. This isolation of the individual is a most serious problem of the present age and it is this that forces itself most daringly on us. Yank does not seek work, what he wants to know in where he belongs3.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Compounds in Tolkappiyam and Balavyakaranam - A Comparison | Automatic Nominal Morphological Recognizer and Analyzer for Sanskrit: Method and Implementation | A Critical Study of The Wasteland - Poetry as Metaphor | Communicative Language Teaching - An Overview | Cinema and the New Media | Culture and Second Language Learning and Teaching - An Exploration in Tamil | R. K. Narayan's Humour in Swami and Friends | Towards Meeting Global Challenge - Cyber Based Instruction in Foreign Language Teaching | Novel Technologies, Engines and Mobiles in Language Learning | Role of Language in Effective Managerial Communication | Pragmatic Analysis of Politeness Theory | The Varied Horizon of Multimedia & Web Tools for English Language Acquisition in the Information Age | Challenges and Problems in the Teaching of Grammar | Some Features of Tirukkural Telugu Translations | Issues of Social and Ideological Empowerment in Contemporary Indian Women Writing in English | Does Stress-Shift Lead to Word-Class Conversion in English? | Insight through Body Language and Non-verbal Communication References in Tirukkural | Think-Aloud Protocol -- Elicitation of Strategy Use and Solution to Learning Problem | Voice of the Voiceless: Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape and George Ryga's Indian - A Comparative Study | Inside the Haveli: A Study | HOME PAGE of February 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Diwakar Thomas, Ph.D.
Department of English
Kongunadu Arts and Science College
Coimbatore-641 029
Tamilnadu, India
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