Reaction Paper to Eugene O'Neill's play "The Iceman Cometh"

Essay by aninelCollege, Undergraduate May 2004

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"The Iceman Cometh" is a tragedy written by Eugene O'Neill in 1939. It is a story about a couple of men who spend the last days of their lives getting drunk in a bar. They believe in these lies about themselves--pipe dreams, as they call it--that enable them to think that their tomorrows would be better. These pipe dreams and the whiskey that they drink everyday get them through their dismal days. One day, they were waiting as usual for Hickey, a salesman who always buys them drinks and tells them stories about the iceman who cheats with the salesman's wife. When he arrived though, he not only tried to buy them drinks, but he also tried to sell them something. He talks about his newfound knowledge about pipe dreams. He tells them that they should just let go of their pipe dreams by making these dreams come true so that they will be free from the weight of their hopeless dreams.

Of course no one listened to him. They all thought he was just playing with them, but he still tried anyway to convince them to do something about their dreams. Finally, he reveals to them that he, too, has a pipe dream that haunts him. He then confesses to them that he killed his wife. He believed that she was cheating on him, when in truth he was also a bad husband to her and their relationship would have been different if he had accepted his faults. Being guilty, he turns himself in to the police. Everyone then thinks he is crazy and that they shouldn't have believed in him in the first place. In the end they all slip back into their drunken haze and their hopeless dreams.

As I watched the play, I had...