The Hairy Ape

by

Eugene O’Neill

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Mildred Douglas Character Analysis

The entitled daughter of the president of Nazareth Steel, a man who also serves as the chairman to the board of directors that controls the ocean liner upon which Yank, Paddy, and Long work. Mildred is traveling with her aunt from the United States to the United Kingdom to work with poor people—a hobby she has picked up over the years because she wants to “discover how the other half lives.” Mildred’s aunt thinks this is a ridiculous thing to do, but Mildred pays no heed to her, instead insisting that she must do this because it will help her “touch life” in a more “sincere” way than she ever has before. At the same time, she feels as if she’s a “waste product” of the process of making steel, which her grandfather perfected years ago. “Or rather,” she says, “I inherit the acquired trait of the byproduct, wealth, but none of the energy, none of the strength of the steel that made it.” Feeling as if she has no “energy” or “strength,” she has decided to push herself out of her comfort zone by taking a trip into the stokehole accompanied by several engineers. When the Second Engineer comes to fetch her, he tells her that she should change out of her white dress, but she ignores him. Once they finally descend, it is this white dress that catches the men so off-guard, though Yank himself doesn’t notice Mildred until he spins around after yelling curses at an unseen engineer. Seeing Yank with his shovel held over his head and his angry face, Mildred calls him a “filthy beast” and faints before the engineers carry her away.

Mildred Douglas Quotes in The Hairy Ape

The The Hairy Ape quotes below are all either spoken by Mildred Douglas or refer to Mildred Douglas. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Pride, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Hairy Ape published in 1995.
Scene Two Quotes

The impression to be conveyed by this scene is one of the beautiful, vivid life of the sea all about—sunshine on the deck in a great flood, the fresh sea wind blowing across it. In the midst of this, these two incongruous, artificial figures, inert and disharmonious, the elder like a gray lump of dough touched up with rouge, the younger looking as if the vitality of her stock had been sapped before she was conceived, so that she is the expression not of its life energy but merely of the artificialities that energy had won for itself in the spending.

Related Characters: Mildred Douglas, Mildred’s Aunt
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

After exhausting the morbid thrills of social service work on New York’s East Side—how they must have hated you, by the way, the poor that you made so much poorer in their own eyes!—you are now bent on making your slumming international.

Related Characters: Mildred’s Aunt (speaker), Mildred Douglas
Page Number: 155
Explanation and Analysis:

Please do not mock at my attempts to discover how the other half lives. Give me credit for some sort of groping sincerity in that at least. I would like to help them. I would like to be some use in the world. Is it my fault I don’t know how? I would like to be sincere, to touch life somewhere. (with weary bitterness) But I’m afraid I have neither the vitality nor integrity. All that was burnt out in our stock before I was born. Grandfather’s blast furnaces, flaming to the sky, melting steel, making millions—then father keeping those home fires burning, making more millions—and little me at the tail-end of it all. I’m a waste product of the Bessemer process—like the millions. Or rather, I inherit the acquired trait of the byproduct, wealth, but none of the energy, none of the strength of the steel that made it.

Related Characters: Mildred Douglas (speaker), Mildred’s Aunt
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Three Quotes

He whirls defensively with a snarling, murderous growl, crouching to spring, his lips drawn back over his teeth, his small eyes gleaming ferociously. He sees Mildred, like a white apparition in the full light from the open furnace doors. He glares into her eyes, turned to stone. As for her, during his speech she has listened, paralyzed with horror, terror, her whole personality crushed, beaten in, collapsed, by the terrific impact of this unknown, abysmal brutality, naked and shameless. As she looks at his gorilla face, as his eyes bore into hers, she utters a low, choking cry and shrinks away from him, putting both hands up before her eyes to shut out the sight of his face, to protect her own. This startles Yank to a reaction. His mouth falls open, his eyes grow bewildered.

Related Characters: Yank, Mildred Douglas
Related Symbols: Mildred’s White Dress
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Four Quotes

Hinsultin’ us, the bloody cow! And them bloody engineers! What right ’as they got to be exhibitin’ us ’s if we was bleedin’ monkeys in a menagerie? Did we sign for hinsults to our dignity as ’onest workers? Is that in the ship’s articles? You kin bloody well bet it ain’t! But I knows why they done it. I arsked a deck steward ’o she was and ’e told me. ’Er old man’s a bleedin’ millionaire, a bloody Capitalist! ’E’s got enuf bloody gold to sink this bleedin’ ship! ’E makes arf the bloody steel in the world! ’E owns this bloody boat! And you and me, Comrades, we’re ’is slaves! And the skipper and mates and engineers, they’re ’is slaves! And she’s ’is bloody daughter and we’re all ’er slaves, too! And she gives ’er orders as ’ow she wants to see the bloody animals below decks and down they takes ’er!

Related Characters: Long (speaker), Yank, Mildred Douglas
Page Number: 167
Explanation and Analysis:

And there she was standing behind us, and the Second pointing at us like a man you’d hear in a circus would be saying: In this cage is a queerer kind of baboon than ever you’d find in darkest Africy. We roast them in their own sweat—and be damned if you won’t hear some of thim saying they like it! (He glances scornfully at Yank.)

[…]

’Twas love at first sight, divil a doubt of it! If you’d seen the endearin’ look on her pale mug when she shriveled away with her hands over her eyes to shut out the sight of him! Sure, ’twas as if she’d seen a great hairy ape escaped from the Zoo!

Related Characters: Paddy (speaker), Yank, Mildred Douglas, Second Engineer
Page Number: 168
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Five Quotes

LONG—(as disgusted as he dares to be) Ain’t that why I brought yer up ’ere—to show yer? Yer been actin’ an’ talkin’ ’s if it was all a bleedin’ personal matter between yer and that bloody cow. I wants to convince yer she was on’y a representative of ’er clarss. I wants to awaken yer bloody clarss consciousness. Then yer’ll see it’s ’er clarss yer’ve got to fight, not ’er alone. There’s a ’ole mob of ’em like ’er, Gawd blind ’em!

YANK—(spitting on his hands—belligerently) De more de merrier when I gits started. Bring on de gang!

Related Characters: Long (speaker), Yank, Mildred Douglas
Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Seven Quotes

SECRETARY—President of the Steel Trust, you mean? Do you want to assassinate him?

YANK—Naw, dat don’t get yuh nothin’. I mean blow up de factory, de woiks, where he makes de steel. Dat’s what I’m after—to blow up de steel, knock all de steel in de woild up to de moon. Dat’ll fix tings! (eagerly, with a touch of bravado) I’ll do it by me lonesome! I’ll show yuh! Tell me where his woiks is, how to git there, all de dope. Gimme de stuff, de old butter—and watch me do de rest! Watch de smoke and see it move! I don’t give a damn if dey nab me—long as it’s done! I’ll soive life for it—and give ’em de laugh! (half to himself) And I’ll write her a letter and tell her de hairy ape done it. Dat’ll square tings.

Related Characters: Yank, Mildred Douglas, The IWW Secretary
Page Number: 192
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mildred Douglas Character Timeline in The Hairy Ape

The timeline below shows where the character Mildred Douglas appears in The Hairy Ape. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene Two
Progress and Happiness Theme Icon
Two days later, Mildred Douglas—the wealthy daughter of a steel tycoon—sits above deck with her aunt. She is “slender”... (full context)
Aggression and Stupidity Theme Icon
Progress and Happiness Theme Icon
Looking out over the ocean, Mildred comments on the “black smoke” coming from the ocean liner, suggesting that it looks “beautiful”... (full context)
Pride, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Exploitation, Oppression, and the Individual Theme Icon
Progress and Happiness Theme Icon
Mildred’s aunt criticizes her for seeking “morbid thrills” by working with the poor. “How they must... (full context)
Pride, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Exploitation, Oppression, and the Individual Theme Icon
Progress and Happiness Theme Icon
Going on, Mildred says that she wants to be “sincere” and that she’d like to “touch life somewhere,”... (full context)
Pride, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Exploitation, Oppression, and the Individual Theme Icon
Progress and Happiness Theme Icon
Mildred’s aunt mocks her for trying to be “sincere,” saying she ought to be “artificial,” since... (full context)
Exploitation, Oppression, and the Individual Theme Icon
When the Second Engineer comes to fetch Mildred, he tries to make small talk while waiting for another engineer to accompany them into... (full context)
Scene Three
Pride, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Exploitation, Oppression, and the Individual Theme Icon
Aggression and Stupidity Theme Icon
...and opens the furnace doors, flinging coal into the “blazing heat.” As he does so, Mildred comes down with the engineers, still clad in her perfect white dress. (full context)
Exploitation, Oppression, and the Individual Theme Icon
Aggression and Stupidity Theme Icon
Mildred stands directly behind Yank, but he doesn’t see her. Even as he stoops to get... (full context)
Pride, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Exploitation, Oppression, and the Individual Theme Icon
Aggression and Stupidity Theme Icon
Ready to kill the engineer he thinks is behind him, Yank is astounded to see Mildred standing there in her white dress. She appears to him “like a white apparition in... (full context)
Scene Four
Pride, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Exploitation, Oppression, and the Individual Theme Icon
Aggression and Stupidity Theme Icon
Inciting anger amongst his peers, Long says that he knows why Mildred came down to the stokehole. “I arsked a deck steward ’o she was and ’e... (full context)
Pride, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Exploitation, Oppression, and the Individual Theme Icon
Aggression and Stupidity Theme Icon
...thim saying they like it!” Saying this, he glances accusingly at Yank and says that Mildred looked at him “as if she’d seen a great hairy ape escaped from the Zoo.” (full context)
Pride, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Aggression and Stupidity Theme Icon
...prompts Yank to state for all to hear that he will take his revenge on Mildred. “I’ll show her I’m better’n her, if she on’y knew it,” he says. “I belong... (full context)
Scene Five
Exploitation, Oppression, and the Individual Theme Icon
Aggression and Stupidity Theme Icon
...eat a fried egg offen it.”  He then impatiently asks where all the people like Mildred are, and Long tells him they’re in church. (full context)
Pride, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Exploitation, Oppression, and the Individual Theme Icon
Yank grows impatient because he doesn’t see anyone who looks like Mildred, but Long tells him to wait. I don’t wait for no one,” Yank replies. “I... (full context)
Scene Six
Pride, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Aggression and Stupidity Theme Icon
...doin’ for weeks!” Going on, he explains that he was trying to get even with Mildred. He describes her white dress and says that if he can’t find her specifically, he’ll... (full context)
Scene Eight
Pride, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Exploitation, Oppression, and the Individual Theme Icon
Aggression and Stupidity Theme Icon
Progress and Happiness Theme Icon
Looking at the gorilla, Yank considers the idea that this is what Mildred imagined when she saw him in the stokehole. “I was you to her, get me?”... (full context)
Pride, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Exploitation, Oppression, and the Individual Theme Icon
Aggression and Stupidity Theme Icon
Progress and Happiness Theme Icon
Frustrated that people like Mildred visit the zoo to gape at the gorilla, Yank hits the cage, which prompts the... (full context)