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Mrs Icarus. By Carol Ann Duffy. Background. Mrs Icarus is a poem that refers to the Ancient Greek story of Icarus

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mrs icarus

Mrs Icarus

By Carol Ann Duffy

  • Mrs Icarus is a poem that refers to the Ancient Greek story of Icarus
  • In Ancient Greek mythology, Icarus and his father Daedalus, escaped from the labyrinth they were imprisoned in on the Island of Crete, by using wings made from feathers, held together by string and wax.
  • Despite his father’s warnings, Icarus flew too close to the sun, and the wax that held the wings together melted. Icarus plummeted to his death in what is now known as the Icarian Sea.

“Icarus just did not possess the will power to not fly higher and the gods resented this, and punished him with his life”

commentary on poem
Commentary on poem
  • “Mrs Icarus” appears to be a poem that is critical of women
  • It is suggested that the narrator of the poem knows the outcome of the Icarus story, hence the lines, “prove to the world// he’s an absolute, utter, Grade A pillock”.
  • It is also suggested that other people have this opinion; “I’m not the first or last// to stand on a hillock”
  • Despite the general opinion that Icarus is a “pillock”, “Mrs Icarus” is unable to accept that she making a bad decision in marrying him.
tone mood
  • The poem has a humorous tone, and is an example of satirical literature
  • Duffy manages to make the ancient Greek myth of Icarus humorous, by revolving the poem around “Mrs Icarus” rather than Icarus himself.
  • Another way in which she creates the light-hearted, humorous mood of the poem is through the use of language such as “Grade A, pillock”. These words appear out of place in the context of Ancient Greece, but they are words in which we can relate to easily.
  • The structure of the poem significantly contributes to making the poem a piece if satirical literature.
  • The poem is very short, with only one stanza and five lines. It is structured in almost the same way as a joke, with a build-up, ended by a punch line.
  • It is as if the whole poem was intended just for the “punch line” at the end; we get the impression that Duffy writes “hillock”, just so she can rhyme it with “pillock”.