In O'Neill's The Hairy Ape, comment on how we notice disharmony between man's primitive pride and his individualism.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One way in which there is disharmony between man's primitive pride and his individualism exists in the industrialized setting.  The capitalist structure in which individual identity is predicated on the accumulation of wealth erodes pride in man's individualism:  

I'm a busted Ingersoll, dat's what. Steel was me, and I owned de woild. Now I ain't steel, and de woild owns me. Aw, hell! I can't see—it's all dark, get me? It's all wrong!

O'Neill shows that a social order that places so much primacy on wealth and external reality detracts from individual identity.  O'Neill shows that there is disharmony in any such setting when pride comes from external contingency, doing so at the cost of pride in one's sense of self.  It is for this reason that "de woild" owns Yank and why he "can't see."  The darkness that descends is a reflection of the disharmony between primitive pride and individualism.

In Scene Five, O'Neill articulates the atomized world of the wealthy.  In doing so, he makes clear that pride and individualism within even the realms of wealth reek of disharmony and a lack of authenticity:  "A procession of gaudy marionettes, yet with something of the relentless horror of Frankensteins in their detached, mechanical unawareness."  In describing the world of Fifth Avenue in such alienated terms, O'Neill is able to suggests how there is disharmony between pride and individual identity.  There is a certain amount of pride that the wealthy possess towards their holdings, objects that reflect advancement.  Yet, O'Neill constructs the world of the wealthy as one in which there is disharmony between pride and identity.  Internal pride is seen as secondary to external constructions of individual identity.  It is in this light where both rich and poor are shown to be experience disharmony between man's pride and social constructions of individual identity.

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