The Hairy Ape

The Hairy Ape Quotes and Analysis

I loathe deformity.

Mildred's Aunt (Scene 2)

Mildred's aunt's derogatory comment makes her character even more sympathetic. However, we come to discover that even though Mildred herself tries her best to understand the working men, she is so disturbed by the sight and yells of Yank that she more or less comes to take the same position of loathing.

For the day that was, was enough, for we was free men.

Paddy (Scene 1)

Paddy, in a lengthy speech, thinks back nostalgically on his experiences as a younger man sailing in a pre-industrial age. Even though his experiences lack the kind of manic vigor of the machines so beloved by Yank, he values above power the freedom of being a worker.

And I'm steel—steel—steel!

Yank (Scene 1)

In response to Paddy's romantic-nostalgic evocation of his old days as a sailor before the introduction of the steamship, Yank mounts a vigorous defense and boast of modern mechanized shipping. Employing a rhetoric similar to that of Futurist artists and writers, he identifies himself bodily with the new power of the machine and is disdainful of the old.

But would that my millions were not so anemically chaste!

Mildred (Scene 2)

Mildred admits that her aunt may be partly correct in calling her a “poser” for going to the stokeroom to see the firemen at work. However, she herself recognizes that her current position is untenable, because despite her great wealth, she is bound and mechanized—that is, not free and living.

But there is order in it, rhythm, a mechanical regulated recurrence, a tempo. And rising above all, making the air hum with the quiver of liberated energy, the roar of leaping flames in the furnaces, the monotonous throbbing beat of the engines.

Stage Directions (Scene 3)

This setting of the stokehole scene is very important to the entire meaning of the play. It is the one literal depiction of machines, which have since the beginning of the play served as metaphors for both the working class and the capitalist class. In the former case, the machines give the workers a sense of immense power, while at the same time robbing of them of their freedom and humanity.

Oh, the filthy beast!

Mildred (Scene 3)

Even though Mildred wishes to gain a true observation into the lives of the working class, the sheer physical sensation manifested by Yank and his tirade is so overwhelming that she reverts to a kind of condescending assertion of class difference.

It'll stick to you. It'll get under your skin. Give yer the bleedin' itch, that's wot. It makes spots on you—like a leopard. Like a piebald nigger, you mean. Better wash up, Yank. You sleep better. Wash up, Yank. Wash up! Wash up!

Firemen (Scene 4)

After the traumatic encounter with Mildred, Yank no longer washes; in fact, he does not seem to wash for the rest of the play, becoming thereby dirtier and dirtier and closer to the condition of “ape.” Significantly, the firemen's choice of a “leopard” as a metaphor uncannily recalls Mildred's similar use of a leopard as an example of a powerful creature entrapped.

Aw say, youse guys. Lemme alone. Can't youse see I'm tryin' to tink?

Yank (Scene 4)

Yank is usually a very outward-directed man, exerting himself physically in drinking and working, and verbally in his loud and lengthy speeches. However, his disturbing encounter with Mildred forces him back into himself to examine things he has not considered before.

In church, blarst 'em! Arskin' Jesus to give 'em more money.

Long (Scene 5)

Long takes Yank to Fifth Avenue in New York to show him how the capitalist class lives in its home environment (i.e., not just on the ship). They wait outside of a church, because the upper class would be best dressed and most characteristically capitalist during that time. Long is referring in this quote to the kind of optimistic, egoistic Protestant beliefs prevalent in the US—what has been called the Gospel of Wealth—according to which Christianity is but another means of increasing one's wealth.

I was goin' to spit in her pale mug, see! Sure, right in her pop-eyes!

Yank (Scene 5)

Yank tells Long that he had tried to ambush Mildred when the latter was getting off the ship. That he had aimed for her "pop-eyes" makes sense, given that it was with her look of disgust and horror that she labelled and “named” him an ape—after the incident, Paddy explains as much to Yank.