Analysis of the Alienation Theme in Eugene O’Neill’s the Hairy Ape: An Eco-Critical Perspective


  • Yuchang Hou



Eugene O’Neill; The Hairy Ape; Eco-criticism; alienation


In the post-industrial era, with the high development of material civilization and the continuous progression of capitalism, the ecological crisis has become increasingly severe, leading to a significant imbalance in the social order. In this context, the lower-class laborers are often caught in an animal-like predicament of survival. In O’Neill’s play The Hairy Ape, the steamship symbolizes the capitalist society, and Yank’s tragic fate reveals the disorientation, confusion, loneliness, disillusionment, and disappointment towards social reality among modern Westerners. This play serves as a warning of the crisis of human alienation in the context of post-industrial civilization. Although Yank’s exploration fails, it remains a valuable attempt by humans to seek spiritual belonging in an alienated society. The pursuit of self-worth remains a permanent subject for human beings to contemplate. Therefore, this paper aims to analyze the theme of alienation reflected in The Hairy Ape from the perspective of Eco-criticism, mainly focusing on three aspects: natural ecology, social ecology, and spiritual ecology.


Download data is not yet available.


Meeker J W .The Comedy of Survival: Studies in Literary Ecology by J. W. Meeker (review) [J]. Leonardo, 1976, 9(4): 352. DOI: 10.2307/1573415.

William Rueckert . Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in Eco-criticism. PMLA 89 (l974 ), pp. l32-4l.

Wang Yuechuan. Postcolonialism and Cultural Criticism Discourse [J]. Qiusuo, 2001 (6): 105-109.

O’Neill E .The hairy ape [M].General Books, 2010.

Anthony Kessel M.B.B.S. M.Phil. M.Sc. M.F.P.H.M. M.R.C.G.P.PETER THORSHEIM. Inventing Pollution: Coal, Smoke, and Culture in Britain since 1800. Athens, Ohio University Press, 2006. 252 pp. illus. $55 (cloth), $26.95 (paper) [J]. Journal of the History of Medicine & Allied Sciences, 2007, 62(3): 372-374.

Fu Haiping. Alienation and Redemption - Insight into O'Neill's Ethical Appeals from The Hairy Ape [J]. Journal of Heilongjiang Institute of Technology (Comprehensive Edition), 2011, (10):.

Fromm E .The Sane Society, New York (Rinehart and Winston, Inc.) 1955 [J]. 2012.




How to Cite

Hou, Y. (2024). Analysis of the Alienation Theme in Eugene O’Neill’s the Hairy Ape: An Eco-Critical Perspective. Journal of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, 34, 92-95.