The Play

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Act 1 of The Iceman Cometh begins in the back room and a section of the bar at Harry Hope’s on an early morning in summer, 1912. The right wall of the back room is a dirty black curtain which separates it from the bar. At the rear, this curtain is drawn back from the wall so the bartender can get in and out. The back room is filled with three rows of tables from front to back, three in the front line, two each in the second and third. To the right of the dividing curtain is a section of the barroom, with the end of the bar visible at the rear and one table in front. Light comes in from the two large street windows on the right, with swinging doors to the street between them.

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Larry and Hugo are at the table left front. Hugo is a small man in his late fifties, foreign and radical-looking, like a cartoon of a bomb-throwing Anarchist. He is asleep, his head resting on his arms folded on the table. Larry is tall, sixty, white-haired, and the only occupant of the room who is not asleep. At the middle front table are Joe, Wetjoen, Jimmy, and Lewis. Joe is black, about fifty years old, in a light suit that was once sporty but is now falling apart. Wetjoen, in his fifties, is a Dutch farmer type, a huge man with a bald head and grizzled beard, once muscular but now fat. Jimmy is a small man about the age and size of Hugo, similarly dressed in black, with gentlemanly manners. Lewis is approaching sixty, a stereotypical English military officer, lean and erect, with white hair and mustache. At the table at right front are McGloin and Mosher, both big, paunchy, slovenly men, and Harry Hope, sixty, white-haired, very thin, and a little deaf, though not so deaf as he usually pretends to be. At the left table in the second line sits Willie, in his thirties, with ragged blond hair and clothes fit for a scarecrow.

As the curtain rises, Rocky, a short, muscular Italian, enters through the curtain at the back and, seeing Larry awake, gives him a free drink. As they joke about the other characters, Larry sums up the play’s theme in his second speech: “To hell with the truth! As the history of the world proves, the truth has no bearing on anything. It’s irrelevant and immaterial, as the lawyers say. The lie of a pipe dream is what gives life to the whole misbegotten mad lot of us, drunk or sober. And that’s enough philosophic wisdom to give you for one drink of rot-gut.” Larry quickly denies that he himself has any dreams left at all; he insists that he is the detached exception to the rule.

As act 1 proceeds, the characters wake up in sequence from their stupors, and each in turn reveals the nature of his own pipe dream, the illusion that keeps him going and helps him keep from seeing himself as the miserable failure he really is. They are all waiting for the arrival of Hickey, who periodically turns up to finance an extended drunk for everyone and enliven the group with his jokes and energy. This particular occasion will be his annual visit for Harry Hope’s birthday, always an especially festive event. When he finally appears, however, he is not the same man to whom they have become accustomed. He is still the quintessential salesman, about fifty, short and stout, friendly, generous, and glib, and he still jokes and buys the drinks, but he does not drink himself, and he has now become obsessed with the idea that he must save them all by getting them to recognize and reject their lying pipe dreams, thereby freeing them from the guilt they feel for not living up to them. He claims to have found “real peace” by facing up to his own illusions and ridding himself of the guilt he had always felt for not achieving his dream. The residents are at first irritated and depressed by his new manner, but after he falls asleep himself at one of the tables they recover their spirits under the influence of alcohol, convincing themselves that he has been joking with them.

Act 2 opens on the back room only, with the black curtain that divides it from the bar serving as the right wall of the scene. It is approaching midnight of the same day. The room has been prepared for the party, with presents and a cake set out on the tables, which have been pushed together in a row to form one long banquet table. During this act the bar’s patrons become progressively less good-humored as Hickey confronts each in turn with his or her (several prostitutes have joined the party) pipe dream and forces the partiers to agree to go out the next day and accomplish the dream, to do what they have always said that they were going to do. By the end of the act, again under the influence of alcohol, the partiers regain some of their festive nature, only to have it stripped away by Hickey’s revelation at the end of the act that his beloved wife, Evelyn, is dead.

Act 3 opens in the barroom, including part of the back room, now revealing fully the large windows and doors to the street on the right. The banquet table has been broken up, and the tables have been returned to the arrangement of act 1. It is midmorning on Hope’s birthday, and during the course of the day every character tries and fails to realize his dream. At the end, however, they have not found happiness and peace but instead sit around dazed and dead. As they become resentful and abusive toward Hickey for what he has put them through, he reveals that his wife was murdered.

Act 4 begins at half past one in the morning of the following day, with the same scene as act 1, though the tables have been rearranged. There is an air of stagnation in the room, and the characters are like wax figures, acting out the motions of drinking in a numb stupor that makes them impervious to any stimulation. Hickey is driven to analyze the failure of his technique of disillusionment to bring happiness to these men. Only then comes the final revelation that his own guilt was caused by his failure to live up to his wife’s faith that he would someday give up his drinking and womanizing, and that he put that guilt to rest by shooting her in her sleep. In a long and emotional monologue, he explains that he had to kill her because of his love for her, to spare her the disappointment she always suffered when he failed to reform.

As Hickey makes his own confession to the group (and, at the end of the speech, to the two policemen who enter and listen), Parritt confesses to Larry that he once informed on his own mother, a former lover of Larry, denouncing her as an anarchist to the police, for money. Hickey finally retreats from his awareness of his own deed, claiming that he must have been insane, as the police, whom he has previously called, lead him away. The residents of Harry Hope’s eagerly seize upon this admission, persuading themselves that his insanity invalidates the truths he has made them all face and claiming that they have all been humoring a sick man. Larry, however, has been forced out of his pose of philosophical detachment into a condemnation of Parritt, who welcomes the attack as an approval of his decision to commit suicide, which he does by jumping from the top floor’s fire escape. Larry has become the only real convert to Hickey’s gospel of life without illusions, having dropped his illusion of detachment, and his only wish now is for death.

Dramatic Devices

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Some critics complained about the play’s length (more than four and a half hours) when it was first produced, but the full dramatic values of the play were finally recognized when it was produced in 1956 (ten years later) at a small Off-Broadway theater that had formerly been a nightclub. The intimate venue, seating less than two hundred people, and arena staging proved perfect for reproducing the atmosphere of Harry Hope’s seedy saloon, and Jason Robards, Jr., brought a depth and range to the part of Hickey that had been absent from the earlier production, transforming the role into one of the most challenging for subsequent American actors. The length was now seen to be an essential element of the play’s power. O’Neill’s staging was seen to be subtle rather than static, relying on characters passing out or falling asleep onstage rather than a series of awkward entrances and exits to produce different combinations of characters smoothly and realistically. The degree to which this long but carefully constructed play observes the classical unities of space and time became clearly evident only in a well-acted version. Another element of the play in performance is its humor, a quality often overlooked in readings. The camaraderie among the drifters is engaging, and this bleak play begins in an atmosphere of relative warmth. Hickey is presented at first as a character of considerable charm and humor. O’Neill once described The Iceman Cometh as a comedy that does not stay funny very long, and the alternative movement between comedy and tragedy has proven crucial to its effective presentation.

The play has been found to be full of hidden meaning at every level, as the wealth of critical literature about it suggests; the very arrangement of the tables on the stage (minutely specified in O’Neill’s stage directions) has proven significant. At Harry’s party, for example, the characters are positioned around the tables exactly as the disciples are in Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper, suggesting a range of symbolic meanings without a word being spoken. The twelve residents are the twelve disciples, with Hickey as Jesus, Parritt positioned in the place of Judas, and so on, as the physical elements of the staging parallel and reinforce the symbolic elements of the characters’ names and functions.

Places Discussed

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Harry Hope’s saloon

Harry Hope’s saloon. Squalid barroom in lower New York City. Although a fictional creation, it is modeled on three actual spots familiar to Eugene O’Neill: Jimmy the Priest’s, a flophouse where O’Neill landed after a stint at sea; the Hell Hole, a Greenwich Village establishment; and the taproom of the Garden Hotel near the old Madison Square Garden.

O’Neill’s stage directions describe a “dirty black curtain” that separates the backroom from the bar. The backroom, the location of the primary action of the play, is so crammed with tables that it is difficult for anyone to pass through. There is a toilet built out into the room and a nickel-a-slot phonograph. The windows, which look out on a backyard, are filthy, and the walls and ceiling are “splotched, peeled, stained and dusty.” Larry Slade, the “old Foolosopher,” calls it the “No Chance Saloon” and “The Bottom of the Sea Rathskeller.”

Walled from the street outside, Harry Hope’s saloon provides a place of escape for its occupants, who are social outcasts, derelicts, and failures, existing with their five-cent whiskey, free lunch, and pipe dreams of tomorrow. It is a setting in which one can forget, repress, deny. Symbolically, Harry Hope’s is like a womb: It is warm, cozy, dark, and filled with fluid.

At the end of the first act, the comfortable booziness of the backroom is disturbed by the entrance of Hickey, the salesman, arriving ostensibly to help celebrate Harry’s birthday, as is his annual custom. However, he differs somewhat from usual: first, because he refuses to drink, and second, because he is determined to persuade the residents to act upon their dreams.

In the second act the backroom has been prepared for a party. It is midnight, signifying the beginning of a new day. The bar is closed off, the floor has been swept, tables have been pushed together to make one long table, and a space has been cleared for dancing. There is a birthday cake, red ribbons on the light fixtures, and presents and bottles of whiskey on the table. The setting has been transformed into something that grotesquely approximates the celebrations of the outside world. Similarly, Hickey seeks to transform his friends into participants in society by convincing them to confront their dreams.

The effort to alter the setting and its inhabitants continues through act 3 and into the next morning. Now more of the bar is seen, including its swinging doors to the street. Significantly, the doors will introduce the characters to the reality beyond Harry Hope’s, and, one by one, seduced by Hickey’s arguments relating to their peace of mind, they make abortive attempts to bring their illusions of tomorrow into reality.

In the last act the setting reverts to the original scene but with an “atmosphere of oppressive stagnation.” Even the booze has no life to it. The patrons were unsuccessful in facing reality, and only when Hickey blurts out that he hated his wife and must be insane can they reinstate their pipe dreams and therefore their stasis. They, as all humankind, need their illusions to survive.

Jimmy the Priest’s was a Raines Law hotel of the early twentieth century. It could allow service of liquor after hours and on Sundays if a meal was served with the liquor. Generally this meant a moldy sandwich festered in the middle of each table. The building was a narrow, five-story structure, with the proprietor occupying the second floor, while the upper floors were rented to the regulars. When O’Neill lived there for a while in 1912, he met many of the characters who appear in this play; and it was here that he probably attempted suicide and was saved by his friend, James Byth, the model for Jimmy Tomorrow.

Historical Context

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Anarchy in the U.S.
During the late-1800s, anarchy, the belief that all systems of government are immoral and unnecessary, was a serious political movement in the United States. Following the assassination of President William McKinley by an anarchist in 1901, anarchists were banned from entering the country; nonetheless, the movement remained viable. Emma Goldman, perhaps the best remembered of the anarchists of this period, may have served as a model for Parritt's mother. Goldman was still quite active in 1912, the year in which The Iceman Cometh is set. But by the time O'Neill wrote The Iceman Cometh in 1939, Goldman had been deported to the Soviet Union and, in 1938, the House of Representatives had set up a committee to investigate so-called un-American activities. The major movements of the radical left—anarchism, socialism, and communism—were not as strong as they had been in previous years.

During the early-1930s, the first years of the Depression, with its worsening economic conditions, led many to turn to the radical left for solutions. But by the 1939, when O'Neill wrote The Iceman Cometh, the increasing success of labor unions, the reforms of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, and the 1938 passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act (which set a minimum wage of forty cents an hour and a maximum work-week of 44 hours) made radical change seem less necessary. In addition, increasing military tension in Europe had begun to command the time and attention of Americans. German leader Adolf Hitler's 1939 invasion of Poland marked the beginning of World War II.

Although Americans now tend to romanticize World War II as a justifiable war that enjoyed popular support from the beginning, this was not the case in 1939. The radical left opposed U.S. involvement in what they considered an imperialist war. But it was not only the left that had qualms about American involvement. Shortly after Hitler's invasion of Poland, President Roosevelt announced in a radio broadcast, ‘‘This nation remains a neutral nation.'' It was not until the United States itself was attacked by Japan two years later—the December 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor—that America entered the war.

Civil Rights in the Early-Twentieth Century
In 1912, the primary issue for women's groups was that of suffrage, the right to vote. Women were actively engaged in social issues, particularly in assisting the poor and fighting for temperance, the prohibition of alcoholism. In order to achieve the reforms they desired, however, women realized that they needed to be able to vote. Another important issue for women was birth control. In 1912, the distribution of birth control information was illegal in the United States. The anarchist Emma Goldman was active in the fight for birth control, which had the potential of giving women the same sexual freedom allowed to men. In 1920, women won the right to vote, and in the decade following that victory, doctors were legally allowed to dispense birth control information. With these successes, many women assumed that their movement was no longer necessary. That and the economic troubles of the Depression made women's rights much less of an issue by 1939.

In 1912, discrimination against African Americans was widespread. In every southern state, African Americans were denied the right of suffrage. In some states, blacks were prohibited from opening businesses of any kind. In 1909, white northerners and blacks joined together and formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which fought for racial equality.

Nonetheless, tremendous discrimination continued, especially in the South. Many southern African Americans moved North but could often only work as laborers or servants, if they could find work at all. In addition, many whites in the North and South continued to consider blacks as their intellectual and social inferiors. Joe Mott, the only black character in The Iceman Cometh, has himself absorbed this attitude and continually speaks of himself as being white or acting white. He and the other roomers consider this high praise and a superior social position than that afforded to blacks.

By 1939, many blacks had benefited from the reforms of the New Deal. Employment and social discrimination continued, however. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) denied the singer Marian Anderson permission to sing in Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., solely because she was black. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest, then assisted in making arrangements for Anderson to sing at the Lincoln Memorial instead. This incident helped to cement African American support for the president and first lady, which translated into support for the Democratic Party.

1930s Culture
While Americans of the late-1930s were dealing with the harsh realities of the Depression and the approaching war, much of the popular culture of the time provided a means of escape from the bleak reality of daily life. This is perhaps best exemplified by the films of the era. Light entertainers such as Shirley Temple, the Marx Brothers, W. C. Fields, and Mae West were all popular in the 1930s. In 1937, the first full-length animated film, Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was produced. The year 1939 saw the production of the fantasy film The Wizard of Oz. The movie version of Margaret Mitchell's romantic Gone with the Wind, the most popular novel of the decade, was also produced in 1939. At first, this focus on escapism seems quite at odds with the bleak world of The Iceman Cometh. But the pipe dreams of the roomers in O'Neill's dark world reflect nothing so much as the decade's need for an escape from reality.

Literary Style

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Setting
The Iceman Cometh is set in the summer of 1912 in Harry Hope's saloon, a seedy establishment on the downtown West Side of New York. All of the play's action takes place either in the bar or the back room of the saloon, visually affirming O'Neill's intention that the bar is a world unto itself. The condition of the bar reflects the hopeless squalor of the roomers' lives. O'Neill describes the walls and ceiling as once white but "now so splotched, peeled, stained and dusty that their color can best be described as dirty."

Adding to the play's themes of alienation and isolation, the windows are so filthy that it is impossible to see the outside world through them. The bar is crowded with tables and chairs "so close together that it is a difficult squeeze to pass between them.'' This crowded condition adds to the suffocating nature of the bar, its atmosphere of hopelessness and despair. Because the setting changes little throughout the play, the audience gains a gradual sense of the saloon's oppressiveness.

The only major change in the setting occurs in Act II, when the saloon is decorated for Hope's birthday party. The room has been cleaned, and a space has been cleared for dancing. Added props, such as a piano, presents, and the birthday cake, contribute to the festive atmosphere. But this lighter setting stands in sharp contrast to the anger and accusations that evolve later in the act, as the camaraderie is destroyed by Hickey's proselytizing. In this case, the party setting heightens the effect of the stage action with a visual contrast to the dark emotions that present themselves. In the final two acts, the saloon resumes its atmosphere of dirt and despair. In fact, in the final act, when the roomers have come full circle and returned to their pipe dreams, the set is once more as it appeared in Act I, heightening the sense that—save Larry's situation—little has really changed.

Time and the Theater
A recurring criticism of The Iceman Cometh is that, at nearly four hours running time, the play is simply too long. This begs the question: Is it proper to fault a play for its length? Such a criticism may seem petty and is rarely leveled at novels or poems. It is this sort of criticism, in fact, that brings into relief an important difference between drama and other forms of literature. Unlike other genres, a written drama is not the play's finished form. The final work is the production (resulting from the work of actors, directors, set dressers, and others involved with the staging) that emerges from the text. A play exists in time in a way that other forms of literature do not. A production of The Iceman Cometh cannot be set aside like a paperback novel, to be picked up later at the viewer's leisure. An audience's ability to focus on the play over a continuous time period is a factor that must be taken into consideration.

Directors do consider attention spans. It is not at all uncommon for a director to provide his own "criticism" by cutting the playwright's dialogue. One director, in fact, managed to shave the running time of The Iceman Cometh by one hour through extensive script edits. It is important, however, that the student of drama not arbitrarily set an "ideal" length for a play. It is more useful to consider the ultimate effect of the play's length. Does that length serve a useful purpose? In The Iceman Cometh the length of the play adds to the feeling of oppressiveness and hopelessness. The continued repetition in O'Neill's dialogue, which is sometimes cut by directors who fail to grasp the meaning in its iterations, emphasizes the redundant, looping quality of the characters' lives. The extreme length of the play contributes to the suffocating atmosphere of Hope's saloon.

Symbolism
A symbol is something that stands for or suggests something other than itself. In The Iceman Cometh the iceman is a symbol of death. In the time period of the play, before there were electric refrigerators, people owned iceboxes which kept food cold by keeping it in an enclosed space with large blocks of ice. The ice was delivered by the iceman, who traveled from door to door.

From the beginning of the play, the roomers look forward to Hickey's running gag about leaving his wife in bed with the iceman. When they discover how much Hickey has changed, some begin to suspect that he did find his wife with the iceman. The figure of the iceman is easily associated with death. In western culture, death is traditionally associated with cold. In addition, it was once customary to use ice to preserve corpses until they could be buried. From this practice comes the slang expressions "to put someone on ice" or "to ice someone," both of which mean "to kill" that ''someone.'' The iceman Hickey left Evelyn with is Death. When used in the title with the word "cometh," the implication is that Death comes in the present tense—it is always arriving for someone. At the end of the play, Death comes for Parritt. Larry expresses a longing for Death, the iceman, who will eventually come for everyone in the bar.

The Unities
The unities are the three rules that govern classical drama. They are unity of time, unity of place, and unity of action. Unity of time generally means that the action of a play should take place within a twenty-four-hour period. Unity of place means that the action of the play should take place in one location. Unity of action means that events must follow logically from one another.

The concept of the unities originated in the writings of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle in his treatise Poetics. Many, however, consider Aristotle's discussion of the unities descriptive; he is simply describing the dramatic style of his own time. During the Renaissance however, the unities became prescriptive—rules for playwrights to follow—particularly in Italy and France. Following the rule of the unities was supposed to make a play more believable for the audience.

In The Iceman Cometh O'Neill adheres to the three unities. The play takes place in one location, within a relatively short period of time, and with events following logically from one another. O'Neill, greatly influenced by classical drama, may have used the unities in order to create an association between The Iceman Cometh and classic Greek tragedy. The unities can contribute to a sense of realism. The audience lives the events as the characters live them and thus experiences the stagnation and despair of Hope's saloon as if it were real.

Compare and Contrast

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1912: Temperance groups work toward the goal of complete prohibition of the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. Eight years later Prohibition becomes the law of the land.

1939: Six years after Prohibition ends in failure, alcoholism continues to be a major social problem. The fledgling group Alcoholics Anonymous, founded in 1935, works to help people overcome what is perceived as a personal failing.

Today: Alcoholism is now generally viewed as a disease that often has a strong genetic component, but the problem of alcoholism is far from solved. Approximately 18 million Americans are alcoholics, and teen drinking is a serious problem.

1912: In spite of a 1901 law prohibiting anarchists from entering the country, the anarchist movement is close to the peak of its popularity in the United States. Socialism and communism are also considered by many to be serious alternatives to capitalism.

1939: The increasing success of labor unions, the reforms of the New Deal, and laws designed to protect workers make the radical left's criticism of government seem less potent.

Today: The dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Soviet Union result in a general sense in America that what the radical left offers is no longer a viable alternative. The movements of the radical left still exist, but within the United States, anarchism, communism, and socialism have virtually no popular support.

1912: The women's movement fights for suffrage (the right to vote) and the right to birth control. Social discrimination and discrimination in employment and education remain strongly in force.

1939: Having won the right to vote and the right to birth control, many believe the women's movement is no longer necessary. National attention is focused on the economy and the war in Europe.

Today: Women have earned legal rights equal to those of men, but in actual practice, women still face discrimination. Feminists are particularly concerned about the rights of women in non-Western nations.

1912: Discrimination against African Americans is widespread. Many southern Blacks move North but continue to endure poverty and racism.

1939: Some of the reforms of the New Deal benefit African Americans, but social and legal discrimination remain.

Today: Discrimination against African Americans is no longer legal or socially acceptable, but many more Blacks than whites suffer from poverty and a lack of education. Affirmative-action programs, which have aimed at providing more opportunities for non-whites, are under attack by conservative politicians.

Media Adaptations

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The Iceman Cometh was adapted as a film in 1973. This version was directed by John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate). It stars Lee Marvin as Hickey, Robert Ryan as Larry, and Jeff Bridges as Parritt.

Bibliography and Further Reading

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Atkinson, Brooks. Review of The Iceman Cometh in O'Neill and His Plays: Four Decades of Criticism, edited by Oscar Cargill, N. Bryllion Fagin, and William J. Fisher, New York University Press, 1961, pp. 212-13.

Bentley, Eric. ‘‘Trying to Like O'Neill’’ in O'Neill and His Plays: Four Decades of Criticism, edited by Oscar Cargill, N. Bryllion Fagin, and William J. Fisher, New York University Press, 1961, pp. 331-45.

Berlin, Normand. O'Neill's Shakespeare, University of Michigan Press, 1993, pp. 176-77.

Engel, Edwin A. The Haunted Heroes of Eugene O'Neill, Harvard University Press, 1953, pp. 283-86.

Gilder, Rosamond. Review of The Iceman Cometh in O 'Neill and His Plays: Four Decades of Criticism, edited by Oscar Cargill, N. Bryllion Fagin, and William J. Fisher, New York University Press, 1961, pp. 203-08.

Tiusanen, Timo. O'Neill's Scenic Images, Princeton University Press, 1968, pp. 265-73.

Woolf, Virginia. ‘‘The Angel in the House’’ in The Conscious Reader, edited by Caroline Shrodes, Harry Finestone, and Michael Shugrue, Macmillan, 1988, pp. 264-68.

Further Reading

Berlin, Normand. Eugene O'Neill, Macmillan, 1982.
This book provides a brief biography of O'Neill and a general introduction to his plays.

Gelb, Arthur and Barbara Gelb. O'Neill, Harper, 1960.
This is a more extensive, in-depth biography of O'Neill.

Scheibler, Rolf. The Late Plays of Eugene O'Neill, Francke Verlag, 1970.
This book provides a careful analysis of The Iceman Cometh as well as several of O'Neill's later plays.

Zinn, Howard. The Twentieth Century: A People's History, Harper & Row, 1984.
This book presents a history of twentieth-century America from a leftist political perspective.

Bibliography

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Bogard, Travis. Contour in Time: The Plays of Eugene O’Neill. New York: Oxford University Press, 1972. Unites theatrical understanding with textual insights. Emphasizes the resemblance of The Iceman Cometh, in its use of the chorus, to Greek tragedy.

Cargill, Oscar, N. Bryllion Fagin, and W. J. Fisher, eds. O’Neill and His Plays. New York: New York University Press, 1961. A collection of reviews and articles, including Helen Muchnic’s important essay comparing The Iceman Cometh to Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths.

Falk, Doris V. Eugene O’Neill and the Tragic Tension. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1958. Brilliant and short interpretive study, astute in analyzing Larry Slade.

Floyd, Virginia. The Plays of Eugene O’Neill: A New Assessment. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1987. Reviews the plot of the play in detail.

Raleigh, John Henry. The Plays of Eugene O’Neill. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1965. Stresses the autobiographical and sociological elements in The Iceman Cometh. Argues that the characters form a hierarchy, not a democracy.

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