The Hairy Ape

by

Eugene O’Neill

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Mildred’s Aunt Character Analysis

An old woman whom O’Neill describes as “pompous and proud.” Mildred’s aunt is highly critical of her niece, finding her desire to work with poor people utterly absurd. She isn’t afraid to voice her misgivings about Mildred, chastising the young woman for seeking “morbid thrills” and telling her that she might as well embrace the fact that she is “artificial” instead of trying to act “sincere.”

Mildred’s Aunt Quotes in The Hairy Ape

The The Hairy Ape quotes below are all either spoken by Mildred’s Aunt or refer to Mildred’s Aunt. 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:
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Mildred’s Aunt Character Timeline in The Hairy Ape

The timeline below shows where the character Mildred’s Aunt 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” and “delicate” with “a pale, pretty face marred by a self-conscious expression... (full context)
Aggression and Stupidity Theme Icon
Progress and Happiness Theme Icon
...ocean liner, suggesting that it looks “beautiful” as it “swirls back against the sky.” Her aunt, however, says that she “dislikes smoke of any kind.” As the two women argue with... (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 have... (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 this... (full context)
Exploitation, Oppression, and the Individual Theme Icon
...refuses, saying that she has “plenty of white dresses.” As Mildred follows the engineer, her aunt calls after her, calling her a “poser.” (full context)