What does Eugene O'Neill mean to say about dreams in the play?I'm wondering if he's referencing the dreams of his characters or the dreams of humans in everyday life.

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Eugene’s commentary about the elusive and illusive nature of dreams applies to his characters and people in real life. In the play, the idea of the American dream is presented as a paradoxical idea: hope in the unobtainable. Each character in Hope’s bar has become or always was a failure, at least in terms of material success. Most of them see their failure as a result of individual shortcomings. The commentary on real life, during O’Neil’s own time is that the American Dream exists but not in the sense that it is for everyone. And the further commentary is that it is not just based on individual shortcomings. While the system in America makes it easier for some to achieve their dreams, overthrowing the system will still result in a flawed system precluding others from their pipe dreams. At the time, communism and socialism were scorned by the majority but embraced by a minority who felt this was a better system for equality. The elusiveness of the American Dream was tied directly to social inequality.

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The Iceman Cometh

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