The Iceman Cometh
by Eugene O’Neill
Character Role Analysis
Now, “protagonist” fits some characters like a glove: Harry Potter, Batman, and Nora in A Doll’s House. The fit isn’t so easy for Larry Slade. He’s not a man of action, and he spends much of the play simply observing.
Larry starts the play claiming to be the only one of the group who has moved past pipe dreams and the trappings of life. He sits in the “grandstand” and simply watches it all happen. Through the course of the play, though, Larry’s shield cracks. His actions (words, really) lead to Parritt’s suicide, and in the end Larry is the only free, living character who undergoes any real change. The play’s arc follows Larry’s growth, and we’re left knowing that only he sees the futility in life.