full title · The Iceman Cometh
author · Eugene O'Neill
type of work · Drama
genre · Tragedy
language · English
time and place written · Written in New York, 1939
date of first publication · 1940; first Broadway production in 1946
publisher · Random House, Inc.
narrator · None
point of view · Not applicable
tone · Tragic
tense · The play unfolds in the time of the present
setting (time) · Summer, 1912
setting (place) · The bar and back room at Harry Hope's saloon in the West side of downtown New York.
protagonists · Larry Slade
major conflict · Hickman has come to Harry Hope's saloon preaching a gospel of salvation. His drunken, washed-up friends should divest themselves of their "pipe dreams" of tomorrow and make peace with themselves. The demystification of these dreams, however, only brings ruin.
rising action · The Iceman Cometh does not adhere loyally to the Aristotelian model of plot and thus does not involve a structure of rising and falling action, climax, and catharsis. It does, however, gradually move toward the quasi-climatic confession of two crimes and their motives: Hickey's vengeful murder of his wife and Parritt's hateful betrayal of his mother.
climax · Hickey's confession to Evelyn's murder toward the end of Act IV.
falling action · Hickey's arrest and Parritt's suicide.
themes · The pipe dream, judgment, ambivalence
motifs · The chorus, Death and sleep, the refrain, the feast
symbols · The Iceman, the vessel
foreshadowing · The characters' respective falls upon the demystification of their pipe dreams as well as Hickey and Parritt's final confessions are prefigured from the beginning of the play.