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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

O'Neill special on American Experience

There was a special about O'neill on TV last night (The American Experience series) and they spoke about the similarity between Shakespeare's King Lear and O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh." They posited the idea that both dealt with our need for dreams-illusions as a way to cope with the frightening and depressing reality of life (the existential reality). They state that at the end, Lear is stripped of all his dreams-illusions about family and love as are the characters in Iceman.
The "Iceman" character has the need to believe he was insane to justify having killed his wife. Because, if he was not insane, then he killed her because he hated her (the reality) and that was too tough to accept...he needed the illusion of insanity to maintain the fiction-illusion-dream that he loved her. And, additionally, all those other characters in the play who have had their illusion stripped away can smile again because if the Iceman can maintain his illusion so can they.
Given this short overview, would you tend to agree with their claim of a similarity? Do you think Shakey was consciously examining this existential issue of our need to create fictions to make life livable and bearable?

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