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The Iceman Cometh

Eugene O'Neill

Act IV: Part two

Act IV: Part one

Act IV: Part two, page 2

page 1 of 2

Suddenly Hickey explodes, insisting that he must tell his story. Though Hope and the others will attempt to silence him callously, insisting that they only want to pass out in peace, Hickey will continue his story unperturbed. Evelyn had loved him since childhood, marrying him even though he was known in their small town as a no-good tramp. A restless spirit, Hickey ultimately used a loan from a brothel madam to become a traveling salesman. Through all of his boozing and cheating, Evelyn stuck to her faith in him, accepting his promises of reform.

Evelyn's pipe dream made him feel like a skunk. Swearing that her pity and forgiveness was written on her face, Hickey moves to show her picture but remembers that he tore it up afterward. Parritt tells Larry that he burned Mother's picture, and explains that her eyes followed him constantly, wishing his death. Hickey continues, saying that on the night of Harry's party, he had promised he would not come to the saloon and get drunk. If he came, it would mean he no longer loved her. Thus, he devised his wife's escape and he murdered her in her sleep.

Moran and Lieb rise. A relieved Parritt makes his own confession and says that he betrayed Mother because he hated her. Oblivious to Parritt, Hickey recalls how he laughed after shooting her and heard himself speak to her corpse, "Well, you know what you can do with your pipe dream now, you damned bitch!" Hickey recoils in horror and thinks that he must be lying. He thinks that he could not have said that and he must have been insane. Hope seizes on the thought as an escape from the ruin of the group's pipe dreams. Moran's dismissal of Hickey's seeming attempt to plead insanity only strengthens his and the group's resolve. They only played along with Hickey to humor him. Hickey earnestly begs for the electric chair as the cops take him out. He wants to die as he does not have a pipe dream left.

With Hickey gone, Parritt begins begging Larry anew for peace. He too thought of vengeance in his treason. Hatefully, Larry commands him to his suicide. Parritt thanks him with simple gratitude.

Hope jubilantly starts the festivities at new. Hesitantly, the group comes to revive their pipe dreams. Pearl and Margie return and reconcile with Rocky. Throughout this second birthday party, Larry sits distantly at the window, listening apprehensively with his eyes shut in concentration. Initially Hugo presses him as to what is going on but ultimately leaves him in frightened anger.

A crunching thud is heard, and Larry hides his face in his hands; the crowd dismisses it. Larry wishes for death anew. Hope calls for a sing-a-long, and the group bursts into a cacophony of different songs. When it stops to laugh, Hugo drunkenly goes on with his "Dansons le Carmagnole!" They jeer at him, and he proclaims, "The days grow hot in Babylon!" The party joins him: "'Tis cool beneath the willow trees."

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Alcohol personified

by jmjohnso, January 11, 2015

Alcohol Personified
Hickey is the personification of alcohol in The Iceman Cometh. If you are not well-versed in the traits of the disease of alcoholism, you will miss this plot device. It takes Hickey a long time to arrive (not until the 2nd Act), because the barflys are dying for a drink, and they are all too broke to afford to buy booze themselves, so the wait seems interminable. When Hickey arrives, he is fresh and clean, and full of promise of a better future. He promises freedom from failure and a complete change of mind so that ... Read more


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