Study Guide

The Iceman Cometh Lies and Deceit

By Eugene O’Neill

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Lies and Deceit

There was a song back in the good old 1980s that repeated the phrase, “Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies” like 97 times. The truth is, sweet little lies do exist and sometimes it’s even nice to hear them. In The Iceman Cometh, though, the lies are much bigger than that. These are the lies people tell themselves in order to hide away from everything they’ve lost and everything they’ve become.

Questions About Lies and Deceit

  1. Do lies he tells himself or lies he tells others lead to Hickey’s ultimate undoing?
  2. Why are so many of the lies about family?
  3. What does it take to show Larry that he’s been lying to himself all along?
  4. What purpose do lies serve for the characters of The Iceman Cometh?

Chew on This

Parritt lies with the best of them. His road to redemption, which sadly for him is death, cannot be reached until he reveals each of the lies he tells about his mother.

It takes only one word to tell a grand lie. That word is “tart.” The fact that the girls insist they’re tarts and not prostitutes and that those two things are different demonstrates how easy it is for people to trick themselves into believing something that’s just not true.

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