Thoughts on “The Iceman Cometh”

As a die-hard advocate of self-awareness, The Iceman Cometh was an interesting challenge to my current creed. In this play, Hickey, a reformed party animal, tries to sell a new philosophy to his old friends.

“Give up your impossible dreams,” Hickey urges his friends (paraphrased, of course), “reclaim the identity you’ve hidden from so long–be free. Free from yourself, free from nagging pipe-dreams, free from escapism.”

Buying his philosophy, however, leads them to a state of suicidal nihilism–even beer can’t get them drunk. O’Neill is, perhaps, then suggesting the importance, then, of pipe dreams to the human being–or, at least, to the human being’s  survival, however dark and hopeless that survival may be.

From a Christian perspective, though, the fascinating thing is that coming to the nihilistic rock bottom place that many of the characters do is when most people learn to lean on Jesus–when most people decide to change the direction in which they’re heading.

Not these characters.

Pearl and Marjory admit that they’re prostitutes, but don’t find the ability to change where they are in life. Harry and Jimmy Tomorrow come to the realization that they won’t be able to get the jobs they want but refuse to look for new ones.

“I was born this way,” the saying goes, “I can’t change.” But the thing is, everyone has a choice–especially when Jesus is brought into the picture. I wonder if, without Jesus, mankind needs some sort of pipedream to keep them alive.

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1 Comment

  1. EFoley said,

    May 21, 2012 at 20:43

    Insightful as always, Marg. One suspects that our culture is the pinnacle of nihilism historically, with individuals and groups channeling their time and money into diversions out of the implicit recognition that all is vanity.


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