Study Guide

The Iceman Cometh Manipulation

By Eugene O’Neill

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You know those people who always seem to get what they want and they seem to get it in some really shady, back-handed way? Most of them are primetime manipulators. Hickey falls into that category, but there’s a subtlety and charm to his manipulation that even the best lack. His ability to manipulate sets everything in motion. There are others at the bar in The Iceman Cometh who know a thing or two about the manipulating trade, as well. Lies, language, and sometimes even straight-up truth serve as these manipulators’ tools.

Questions About Manipulation

  1. Why does Hickey turn certain characters against each other?
  2. Does Hickey truly believe that he’s helping the group?
  3. How does manipulating the image of the past affect the present?
  4. Why do the others go through with what Hickey tells them to do?

Chew on This

Hickey is a pro-style speaker. However, it’s the fact that he can read people so fast that gives him such power in the play.

With his ability to read people and to manipulate them fairly easily, Hickey actually adopts multiple roles throughout the play, performing specific ways for specific characters. Some people are two-faced, this guy has a whole bunch of faces he can put on.

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