Understanding Compassion: On The Iceman Cometh

Wenhua LI


In O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, we meet another kind of family, seventeen roomers in Harry Hope’s saloon who sustain their lives by whiskey and pipe dreams. They all try and help one another, depend on each other, and in fact, their sense of family supports them as they sing the refrains of songs, boast of their glorious past, and wait for the brilliant future that will never come. Through dealing with O’Neill’s tragic experience, his viewpoint of the theatre, backdrop of The Iceman Cometh, production of The Iceman Cometh, the value of strong emotions in tragedy and modern life characterized by repetitious talks, wrangling, laughing and fighting, this paper aims to point out that O’Neill is very close to those social outcasts of his old days at Jimmy the Priest’s and there is no doubt that O’Neill portrays them from his loving memory with deep sympathy and understanding.


Emotion; Understanding; Compassion

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/n


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