Icarus Essay, Research Paper
In the poem Waiting for Icarus by Muriel Rukeyser, a woman tells the story of her relationship with a man. She loved him and trusted him but discovers that he betrayed her. The setting of the poem is on a beach where this woman has been waiting all day for this man to arrive. While she is waiting, she reminisces about the promises he made to her and about how he confided his dreams and ambitions to her. These promises and confidences made her feel close and special to him. He tells her of his plans to go away but reassures her that he will return and everything will be fine.
While she is waiting there on the beach, she is thinking of all the negative comments that were said about him and their relationship. Her friends make fun of her and tell her that he wanted to get away from her. Her mother tells her that this type of man is no good and she s worst than he is for falling in love with him. Her recollections make her wonder whether or not she is a fool for believing his promises and not following her mother s advice. She believes she may have been deceived but she still waits there waiting for him in hope that he will show up.
The name Icarus comes from the ancient myth of a young man who flies with wings invented by his father. He flies too close to the sun, the wings fall apart, and he falls into the sea and drowns. In the title Waiting for Icarus, Icarus symbolizes men who run away from their relationships. The man in this poem makes all these promises to this woman and convinces her that he cares about her. When he says all the buckles were very firm and the wax was the best wax, he is trying to convince her of his integrity and good intentions. The buckles and wax are metaphors for the strength of the relationship. In the myth the wings work fine but as Icarus is flying towards the sun, the wax melts and the buckles that hold the wings together fall apart. In the poem, the man may have felt relationship was heating up and he was not ready for a commitment, but instead of being honest with her, he leads her on to believe his lies. He leaves her waiting but never tells her that he is not coming back. When he says Just don t cry, it is hint that for some reason she will want to cry. As he is trying to console her, he is also warning her that she is going to be unhappy enough to cry.
Although she has fallen for his lies, her mother and friends see through his deceit and try to caution her. Her friends even tell her directly that he is leaving her. She is in love and doesn t believe any of this. She seems to be upset that they say these unkind things to her.
When she looks back on everything, she realizes he has left her. She has been waiting on the beach for hours because she didn t want to give up hope, but as night falls and she is alone in the darkness, she finally sees the light. She feels she was taken advantage of and she feels stupid for waiting for him all day. She had faith in something that wasn t true. She is ashamed that she fell for his dishonesty. She is embarrassed that her mother and the girls were right about him after all. She says, I would have liked to try those wings myself, meaning that she should have left him. She knows that if she had left him, she would have felt better than what she is feeling now.