O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape And Williams’ A Stre

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Appearance v Reality The recurrent theme of appearance v reality can be identified in O?Neill?s The Hairy Ape and Williams? A Streetcar Named Desire. The different playwrights use a variety of elements of stage drama to reveal the impact of this theme on specific characters in the plays. O?Neill uses expressionistic techniques to reveal the social reality of the drama and how Yank?s appearance has misguided his perception of that reality. O?Neill depends upon the effects of his staging to depict Yank?s appearance in conflict with reality. In contrast to the expressionistic techniques used by the other playwrights, Williams allows the theme to develop in the natural staging of the two-story corner building in New Orleans. Williams relies upon lighting, sound, and dramatic structure to reveal Blanche?s efforts to conceal the reality of her past with the appearance she projects to the other characters.

O?Neill uses expressionistic staging techniques and relies upon insights of the supporting characters to reveal the social realities of the ship. The first scene is staged in a crowded room filled with men each of whose identity has been lost beneath their beards and the coal covering them. The space is dimly lit and the ceiling and walls confine the men who appear to have barely enough room to breathe. The expressionistic effects are meant to represent a cramped space in the bowels of a ship, as if the men are imprisoned by white steel. The dialogue of the unified mass of men suggests the drunk and angry tone of the scene. The men are lower class workers and are paid very little for the harsh labor conditions in the fireman?s forecastle. Long describes the oppressive nature of society as he declares, ?We wasn?t born this rotten way. All men are born free and ekal? They dragged us down ?til we?re on?y wage slaves in the bowels of a bloody ship. Hit?s them?s ter blame- the damned capitalist clarss!? (p.146). The other men reject Long?s understanding of the social realities of their class.

Paddy?s nostalgic description of what it meant to be a sailor in his youth reflects society?s deprivation of the firemen?s self-possession. Remembering the freedom of working under the sun and the satisfaction of belonging to the ship Paddy explains, ??Twas them days a ship was part of the sea, and a man was part of ship, and the sea joined all together and made it one? (p.149). In contrast to Paddy?s youth, the firemen are denied the possibility of seeing the sky through the steel cage of the ship. The second scene is staged on the first class deck of the ship. The brightness of blue and yellow color gives the impression of the open sea, seemingly without boundaries and flooded with fresh air and sunshine. The women?s clothing glares with whiteness and everything on the deck is meticulously clean. The first class passengers experience the sea the way Paddy described it in his memories. The expressionistic effects of the scene underlie the sharp contrast between the two classes on the ship.

Yank?s appearance is defined by the stage directions as ?broader, fiercer, more truculent, more powerful, more sure of himself than the rest.? In the first scene it is apparent that the men fully respect Yank because of his superior appearance; ?the grudging respect of fear.? According to O?Neill, Yank ?represents to them a self-expression, the very last word in what they are, their most highly developed individual? (p.143). O?Neill?s expressionistic staging of the third scene reveals the effects of Yank?s appearance on the others and himself. From the darkness of the stokehole the men toil to feed the insatiable appetite of the ship?s furnaces. As heat and light escape from ?these fiery round holes,? the silhouettes of the men depict the attitudes of ?chained gorillas.? Throughout the scene the mechanical sounds of grinding steel and crunching coal parallel the physical labors of the men. Yank?s encouragement and work ethic lead the men through...
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