Study Guide

The Iceman Cometh Lies and Deceit

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Lies and Deceit

MARGIE: You’re a bartender. (1)

This is a simple example of how Margie, Pearl, and Rocky lie to each other in order to ignore what they really are—namely prostitutes and a pimp. Let’s be honest, though, they’re not the only one’s doing it. People in Harry’s simply can’t own up to who or what they are.

LARRY: All I know is I’m sick of life! I’m through! I’ve forgotten myself! (2)

It’s tempting to think of Larry as the sane one of the bunch (a frightening proposition for sure), but he’s lying to himself just like everybody else. He can say he’s through with life all he wants, but there’s something keeping him going.

PARRITT: But I was talking about how she must feel about me. My getting through with the Movement. She’ll never forgive that. (3)

Parritt and Larry both use leaving the Movement as a way of avoiding dealing with the fact that they both left their relationships with Parritt’s mother unresolved. She’s not in the play, but boy does she haunt these two guys.

PARRITT: You’re crazy! What do I want with a lawyer? (3)

The need for a lawyer implies some sort of guilt, and Parritt keeps lying to himself and telling himself he’s not guilty of anything. It’s not until he accepts his guilt that he can be free. Sadly for him, being free doesn’t include stuff like soaking in the sun, hitting a theme park, or living.

PARRITT: But I know how you can’t help still feeling—because I still love her, too. (3)

Parritt’s biggest lie to himself is that he still loves his mother. Larry might. Larry definitely might. Parritt set her up and sent her away out of hate, though. This is one thing that separates the two men. We get a sense at times that Larry believes Parritt lacks honor.

LARRY: I’ve told you you can’t make me judge you! (3)

In the end, Larry rises to the occasion and serves as judge for Parritt just like Hickey knew he would.

HARRY HOPE: I’ve had the rheumatism on and off for twenty years. (3)

One of the many little lies Harry convinces himself of to justify never stepping foot out of the bar. Also an example of words that just don’t get thrown around too much these days. Rheumatism now usually gets referred to by its more specific cousin, arthritis.

PARRITT: I loved Mother, Larry! No matter what she did! I still do! (4)

Parritt’s great lie becomes even clearer now. Not only does he hate his mother now, he never loved her. Is he saying this stuff to convince Larry or to convince himself?

HICKEY: I loved her so much she could make me believe anything. (4)

Leave it to O’Neill to turn someone loving someone into an act of menace towards that person. Is Hickey just coming up with cheap excuses here?

HICKEY: But she did her best to make me believe she fell for my lie about how traveling men get things from drinking cups on trains. (4)

Hickey despises Evelyn’s acceptance of this lie. It’s this type of acceptance piling up over the years that played a major role in Hickey killing Evelyn. He sees the regulars at Harry’s creating the same types of illusions as his wife. He doesn’t show up to kill them, but he does show up to kill off their illusions.

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