Imagery in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh

Human Identity Redefined



Imagery – classical – modern – postmodern – animal – human


The characters, in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, are remarkably motionless, drinking and day dreaming. However, their portrayal as characters is based upon motion and continuous shift from one image to another. These images are meant to reflect the (post)modern psychological and sociopolitical conditions in which the derelicts are trapped, and probe issues related to human existence and human identity. This paper attempts to read the device of imagery as a dramatic and textual device and decipher its different meanings in O’Neill’s text, as far as the question of human identity is concerned. In the second part, more focus is addressed to animal imagery and its function in determining Man’s definition from a postmodern perspective, referring to notions suggested by postmodernist and post-structuralist thinkers like Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, and Jean François Lyotard.


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How to Cite

Romdhani, M. (2021). Imagery in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh: Human Identity Redefined. International Journal of Language and Literary Studies, 3(1), 262–276. Retrieved from