Denial is the refusal to admit the truth. It is the refusal to accept or acknowledge the reality or validity of a thing or idea. Many characters in The Iceman Cometh suffer from denial and false hope. O'Neill places these characters in the appropriate setting in which they are able to fantasize about their dreams. Amidst the drunken and misguided characters, O'Neill presents a few that the reader builds hope and sympathy for. Each character uses a pipe dream in order to be able to become blind to their downfalls and to reality. In the bar setting, characters in Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh portray the theme of denial by embracing pipe dreams.
Harry Hope is the elderly owner of a saloon and rooming house. The narrow five-story structure presents the ideal setting for self-destruction. The characters come here in order to "drink away their problems" (O'Neill 597). All of the characters in the novel come to Harry Hope's bar as an escape. They manage somehow to "remain drunk and delude themselves"(Gagey 332), "with a few harmless pipe dreams about their yesterdays and tomorrows" (O'Neill 620). They feel sheltered and protected from the real world while in the bar. They do not have to face reality here. "The dreamers have come to Hope's because, ostensibly, they are failures in the outside world. What lies outside is a world without value, a hostile society to which no man can possibly belong, and from which they must take refuge" (Bogard 54). The characters deny the fact that there is a real world out there, in where they may succeed. They are much more content taking refuge in the bar, where they do not have to strive for or work at anything. They can just wallow...
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...s them. They are more content by drinking their sorrows away in Harry Hope's bar.
Bogard, Travis. "The Door and the Mirror: The Iceman Cometh." Modern Critical Interpretations
Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh. Ed Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House,
Day, Cyrus. "The Iceman and the Bridegroom." Modern Critical Interpretations Eugene O'Neill's
The Iceman Cometh. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. 9-17.
Gagey, Edmond. "Eugene O'Neill." Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Vol.6. 332.
O'Neill, Eugene. "The Iceman Cometh." Masters of Modern Drama. Ed. Haskell M. Block et. al.
New York: Random House, 1962. 587-644.
Orr, John. "The Iceman Cometh and Modern Society. "Modern Critical Interpretations Eugene
O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. 87-93.
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