Imagrate Ryter TEACHER CLASS 22 April 2014 Annotated

Imagrate Ryter
22 April 2014
Annotated Bibliography for The Iceman Cometh
Alexander, Doris M. "Hugo of the Iceman Cometh: Realism and O'Neill." American
Quarterly 5.4 (1953)
Alexander jumpstarts her ridiculous argument by using Eric Bentley’s argument that Hugo is a
failed attempt at realism and “rotten fruit” in Iceman. She spends an unnecessary amount of time
comparing Hugo to his real life counterpart, Hippolyte Havel, an alcoholic who relied on the
pockets of friends and acquaintances to support his habit. Alexander (and those she cited of
similar argument) attempts to use Hugo as the reason the play is disappointing. She explores the
frustrating idea that audiences could not connect to the play because they felt like they could not
relate. This is centered around an assumption that Hugo is too “literary”—when, in fact, he was
based on a very real person who had a very similar style of language, behavior and appearance.
That said, it seems that this article is a no win back and forth between if O’Neill was accurate or if
he was completely inaccurate. In either case, it seems Alexander is determined to crucify O’Neill
using Hugo as a sad excuse.
Brantley, Ben. "Bottoms up to Illusions." Rev. of The Iceman Cometh. New York Times 9
Apr. 1999.
Ben Brantley provides a glowing review of the cast and the production of Iceman. Kevin Spacey
cast as the perfect Hickey, the rest of the cast measures up to his sharp and engaging performance.
Brantley states something that seems evident to a reader—that Iceman plays better than it reads.
The characters are dreamy and charming, they move like “real” drunks. The music and sound
effects are not disruptive, but add to the overall effectiveness of the play and the world it lives in.
Bentley highlights something of particular interest, that the “pipe dream” lesson is not overdone.
The pain behind Hickey and his cohorts is real, believable and, yes, tragic. Even the comedy of
the play lends itself to the tragedy, and the entire cast comes out with the kind of review that would
have probably made O’Neill light his play on fire (see ROBINSON)
Frazer, Wilfred L. "O'Neill's Iceman-Not Ice-Man" American Literature 44.4 (1973)
This relatively short, but informative piece deals with the issue of titling and the constant
interest in the iceman or the ice-man in the play. The article superficially explores the potential
and confirmed double meanings inherent in the title. The well-known definition of an “iceman” as
an empty political figure who makes promises they cannot keep or do not want to keep help the
author paint Hickey as just that—a cold, death bringing figure who makes hollow promises to men
who are essentially living in between life and death. Frazer also explains that O’Neill meant for
the play to be a constant allusion to the sex-death connection, dealing with issues of “heat” of
passion and the “cold” of death. Women and death itself seem to be portrayed as responsible for
the downfall of the protagonist figures in the play.
Hopkins, Vivian C. ""The Iceman" Seen Through "The Lower Depths"" College English
11.2 (1949).
Here, Hopkins attempts to establish a rather unfair argument against Iceman based on the
perceived success of a play that she claims, is the inspiration for it—The Lower Depths. Hopkins,
after a recap of both plays main plots—both take place in bar, both deal with pipe dreams, both
blame women for their downfall and have a salesman character who tries to change “things”.
Despite not being obvious about the implication of her argument, I think Hopkins may actually be
onto a general assumption we can make about American life-that bars and pipedreams go together
and that we always desire to be free of something. Another point in her argument was the power
of the Parritt’s suicide which she says is gray, somehow. I think she misses the point that this
whole play is gray, an in between place with a bunch of people who live in between life and death.
King, William D. "Orestian Structures in The Iceman Cometh.”
King starts out with a promising argument that the characters in Iceman represent the tragic
characters of Orestes and Agamemnon. Though King ends up more biographical and could do a
better job incorporating O’Neill’s family life with the Greek tragic structure—which I think is
where the truer argument lies—there is some validity to this piece. The notion of woman being
evil and leading a man to madness or murder is not unfamiliar. I think Clytemnestra is a
convenient source of this, and that the comparison is weak, all in all. However, the overarching
sense of doom that pervades the text and almost any tragedy is something worth mentioning that
King latches onto. The fact that Parritt “tells his story” and Hickey confesses both showcase a
desire to purge is likened to Agamemnon’s confession of the murder of his daughter, Iphigenia.
The most interesting facts about this article seem to center around O’Neill’s own attempted suicide
and his mother’s morphine addiction, not to mention his patriarchal competition with dad.
Robinson, James A. "Convergences and Divergences: Father and Son in A Touch of the Poet
and The Iceman Cometh" American Literature 59.3 (1987)
Robinson makes some interesting biographical connections to O’Neill’s relationship with his
father and the portrayal of a “hero” in A Touch of the Poet and Iceman. Despite some brief
discussion of the difference between the melodramatic theater of his father’s time and O’Neill’s
desire to be more “real” or “tragic”, the central argument seems to be that O’Neill’s work, overall
and in these plays, come from a desire to de-popularize himself and work out his “daddy issues”.
Robinson spends most of the article focusing on O’Neill’s father being a well-known actor who
spent most of his career playing the same role but secretly wished he had done something complex
and noteworthy (such as Shakespeare). This piece argues that Iceman, specifically, deals with the
overarching disappointment and O’Neill’s desire to escape his father’s fate. In the end, the final
paragraphs of the article completely lose focus in a vain attempt at comparing Hickey and
O’Neill’s father with a Godlike presence, both powerful and terrifying.
Ginamarie Lecount
ENGL 552
22 March 2010
Dr. Lincoln Konkle
Presentation Outline and Summary
Like father , like son. O’Neill’s anxiety about melodrama and regret in Touch (autobiographical?)
Theme of repetition in Iceman likened to Father’s performances
Determinism and hopelessness
Attack on wealth, on “easy money” that comes from the theater
Awe towards his father reflected in the men he paints as heroes in many other plays
Overarching daddy issues
Somehow, we transition from this to what a good tragedy Iceman is
“Loss of grandeur” and lack of performance
Hickey and release—the truth—purging
A sellout? Seeking approval from the audience just like father
Realism as a dangerous term-expectations of realism
Bentley and Hugo as “rotten fruit” and unrealistic ironic!
Hippolyte Havel-drunk, insane, criminal
Damning the bourgeois
Language and subject of conversation with Hippolyte
Is O’Neill a failure for trying to get so close to life?
Dumb question: “Why did O’Neill choose to reproduce an atypical character?” Seriously?
Pipe dreams and the hatred of them
Audience cannot connect, not real, no conflict
10. Undramatic—like life?
Etymology of “iceman”
Hickey as the iceman, not the “ice man” who makes “an impact” with the wife
O’Neill’s conscious awareness of the term
Iceman dealing with death-murky-hot and cold connections in the text
Jesus and the “lamp of love”
Double meaning of death and sex
Women and death
Iceman and Gorky’s Lower Depths
Similar characters-outside normal society, isolated by alcohol
Pipe dreams a shared theme—a cure available
Wife’s infidelity
The reality on O’Neill’s work-a real place based on a real life hangout
A lot of summary
Hickey and Luka-similar characters who are catalysts to action
Both deal with “pitiful weak people” who need their illusions
Essentially, only stole from Gorky and his “punishment” was a less tragic play, something we know O’Neil wanted
10. The tragedy of Parritt’s suicide pales in comparison, but he seems to get a clearer social commentary that moving
money means nothing…though I’m not sure we see this
Orestian parallels-tortured son, obsession with forgiveness, doom
Sacrifice as well
Hickey is cursed, Harry is cursed…and so on
Hickey’s crucification
A stretch in many ways—Clytemnestra’s delusions (murdering Agamemnon) and Hickey’s
Don Parritt is Orestes, not much story, lots of doom—Orestes goes to Apollo and Parritt goes to Larry
Cycle of revenge what matters, not who is right. We like this?
Closure and death
Brief off focus to discuss life ad suicide attempt of O’Neill (sons in plays as well as dad) Mom, movement and the
10. Ends on a completely biographical note…
Calls O’Neills work, a “great, lumbering barroom metaphysics lesson”
Speaks to the attentive nature of the audience
Philosophically, nothing changes in the play and on stage
Hickey played by Kevin Spacey who is sharp, effective and DOES change everyone around him
Play succeeds in highlighting the “pipe dream” and how desperate the hope is
The rhythm of the stumbling drunks believable and powerful—even DTs
Set design is apparently the perfect balance between dream and “gritty life”.
Paul Giamatti as Jimmy Tomorrow.
All glowing, happy drunks adequately played at the start, and properly “bruised and dead” by the end.
10. It plays much better than it reads (I AGREE, see seventies trailer)
Sound effects and song only add to the mood
12. Spacey steals show—born to play this role, but does it just right
13. Overall, it works. Has the “rich, warming flavor of single malt Scotch.”