Methods of Characterization in The Hairy ApeEugene Gladstone O’Neill was born October 16, 1888, to Irish-American parentsin New York City. His mother, Ella O’Neill, reserved and genteel (Sheaffer 15), camefrom a prosperous Cleveland family. His father, James O’Neill, from a poor family, wasan actor who became synonymous with Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo, a role heperformed over 3000 times (Sheaffer 8). Driven by fear of poverty, James workednonstop and constantly tried his hand at get-rich-quick schemes, such as buying andselling real estate. Eugene had one older brother James. During Eugene’s early years,the family toured around the country with James Sr.’s acting company and spent eachsummer vacationing in New London. Eugene grew to hate theater life with its constantmoves and unreliable income. He attended Catholic schools growing up, and he went toPrinceton in 1906. Eugene spent his first year loafing and neglecting his studies, and hewas dismissed for “poor scholastic standing” (Sheaffer 125). In October of 1909, hesecretly married Kathleen Jenkins before sailing to Honduras on a gold-prospectingexpedition. On his return, six and half months later he learned he had a namesake,Eugene Gladstone O’Neill. He neglected his responsibilities as husband and father,however, and he was divorced in 1910. For the next two years he served as acrewmember on various sailing boats and steamships. Those experiences served asmaterial for his future sea plays.
At the end of 1912, he was diagnosed with tuberculosisand was admitted to Gaylord Farm sanatorium in Wellingford, Connecticut, for sixmonths. It was here, away from alcohol and the vestiges of wild living, …
…12, 1997, 27.Carpenter, Frederic I. Eugene O’Neill. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1964.Chothia, Jean. Forging a Language: A study of the plays of Eugene O’Neill. New York:
Cambridge University Press, 1979.Diggins, John Patrick. “‘The Hairy Ape’ and the FBI”. The New Leader. April 7, 1997, 21.Egri, Peter. “’Belonging’ Lost: Alienation and Dramatic Form in Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape”
in Critical Essays on Eugene O’Neill. James J. Martine, ed. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1984.Hofmannsthal, Hugo. “The Beggar and The Hairy Ape” in Eugene O’Neill’s Critics: Voices from
Abroad. Horst Frenz, et. al. eds. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1984.O’Neill, Eugene. Four Plays by Eugene O’Neill. New York: Signet Classic, 1998.Sheaffer, Louis. O’Neill: Son and Playwright. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1968.