"Icarus: A Departure from Myth and a Reflection on Human Nature"

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The poem "Icarus" by Edward Field provides a unique perspective on the classical Greek myth of Icarus and Daedalus, offering a departure from the traditional narrative. In this analysis, we explore the poem's thematic elements, literary devices, and the deviation from the myth, shedding light on Icarus' continued existence in the human world. Field's nuanced portrayal of Icarus Hicks and his struggles forms the crux of this examination, revealing a poignant commentary on the consequences of ignoring warnings and succumbing to the pitfalls of human nature.

Background of the Greek Myth

To comprehend Field's reinterpretation, it is essential to revisit the original Greek myth of Icarus and Daedalus. Daedalus, a skilled craftsman, constructed wings for himself and his son Icarus to escape the Labyrinth. However, Daedalus cautioned Icarus not to fly too close to the sun, as the wax binding the feathers would melt. Disregarding this admonition, Icarus soared too high, leading to the wax's melting and his tragic demise as he plunged into the sea.

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This mythical foundation serves as the backdrop against which Field crafts his narrative.

Deviation from the Myth

Contrary to the myth, Field's "Icarus" proposes a compelling twist to the tale. Icarus Hicks, the protagonist, not only survives the fall but swims to a city, where he assimilates into human life. The poem subtly references the original myth through phrases like "compelled by the sun" and "thought himself a hero," challenging the conventional understanding of Icarus' fate. This departure forms the thematic core of Field's work, exploring Icarus' subsequent struggles and the emotional toll of his choices.

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Literary Devices in the Poem

Field employs various literary devices to enhance the poetic richness of "Icarus." Notably, alliteration permeates the verses, with instances such as "feathers floating" and "police prefer." Such linguistic nuances contribute to the poem's aesthetic appeal, creating a melodic cadence that underscores the emotional depth of Icarus' narrative. Additionally, the use of alliteration in phrases like "curtains carefully" and "hates himself" reinforces the somber tone, enveloping the reader in the melancholic atmosphere that pervades the poem.

Field masterfully employs imagery to paint vivid pictures of Icarus' existence in the human world. The initial stanzas conjure visuals of "feathers floating around the hat" and Icarus attempting to "fly to the lighting fixture on the ceiling." These images, juxtaposed against the backdrop of the mundane human world, serve to emphasize Icarus' struggle to reconcile his fantastical past with the dreariness of his current reality. The description of Icarus donning a "gray, respectable suit" further underscores the banality of his surroundings, creating a stark contrast with the mythical aura of his origin.

Protagonist's Struggle and Emotions

Central to the poem is Icarus Hicks' poignant struggle to adapt to the human world while grappling with the weight of his past choices. Field delves into Icarus' psyche, portraying him as a character unable to fully detach from the consequences of his disobedience. The remorse and existential conflict that Icarus experiences are encapsulated in phrases like "sad, defeated eyes" and his wish for a fate of drowning rather than enduring a life plagued by regret. This exploration of Icarus' emotional turmoil adds depth to the narrative, transforming the poem into a contemplative study of human nature and the enduring impact of rash decisions.

The overarching theme of "Icarus" revolves around the perils of unchecked ambition and the enduring consequences of one's actions. Field utilizes the Greek myth as a metaphorical lens through which to explore the timeless lesson that greed and disobedience may lead to a lifetime of regret and sorrow. The purpose of the poem, therefore, transcends a mere retelling of a classic myth; it serves as a cautionary tale, prompting readers to reflect on the consequences of their choices and the potential for redemption even in the face of irreversible decisions. Through the lens of Icarus' grief in the modern world, Field invites contemplation on the universality of human struggles and the enduring relevance of ancient wisdom.


In conclusion, Edward Field's "Icarus" emerges as a profound reinterpretation of a classical myth, offering a nuanced exploration of human nature and the enduring consequences of one's actions. Through literary devices, vivid imagery, and a departure from the traditional narrative, Field weaves a narrative that transcends time, inviting readers to reflect on themes of ambition, regret, and the potential for redemption. "Icarus" stands as a testament to the enduring power of mythology to illuminate the complexities of the human experience.

Updated: Feb 16, 2024
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"Icarus: A Departure from Myth and a Reflection on Human Nature". (2016, May 07). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/icarus-by-edward-field-poem-analysis-essay

"Icarus: A Departure from Myth and a Reflection on Human Nature" essay
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