Study Guide

The Iceman Cometh Mortality

By Eugene O’Neill

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Death hangs over The Iceman Cometh like… well, kind of like the Grim Reaper. Hickey brings death to Harry’s, but it had already started making its way there. It might have even had a cozy little seat in a dark corner of the bar. Most of the characters in this play seem as though they’re just a few steps away from the grave. That said, something keeps them going day after day, and most of them manage to evade Death’s grip even after Hickey shows.

Questions About Mortality

  1. How does Hickey “convert Larry to death”?
  2. How are the dead perceived in the play?
  3. Does death offer redemption to Parritt?
  4. Why do you think Hickey killed his wife?

Chew on This

The others set Hickey up as a Messiah, but he proves to be more of a destroyer than a savior. He leaves death and ruin in his wake.

Age survives, but youth is killed in the play. However, Parritt seems to welcome death, and arguably Larry’s knowledge of his own aged life is a more painful end than Parritt’s death.

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