What mythological creature does Beatty compare Montag to in Fahrenheit 451?

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Beatty compares Montag to Icarus. Icarus was the son of Daedulus, a great craftsman who made Icarus wings that would allow him to fly. Daedulus warned him not to go too near to the sun, but Icarus went ahead and did so anyway, melting the wax on his wings so that he plunged into the sea and drowned.

"Well," said Beatty, "now you did it. Old Montag wanted to fly near the sun and now that he's burnt his damn wings, he wonders why. Didn't I hint enough when I sent the Hound around your place?"

The firemen have just responded to a call, and Beatty has withheld the information that it is Montag's home they are burning until they pull up the house. Mildred has turned Montag in for having books.

The statement is significant for several reasons. First, it shows overtly what was implicit all along: Beatty sees himself as a father figure to Montag. He warned Montag to stay from books, and Montag did not listen. He will have to pay the price, with Beatty as the punishing father figure. Further, the statement once again shows how well-read Beatty is, a man completely steeped in good literature. This sign of intelligence, combined with his increasingly cruel verbal bullying of Montag, suggests that Beatty, like Mildred, is suicidally frustrated with the society in which he lives. On one hand, he is its voice of orthodoxy and has grown to a position of prestige and power through repressing reading, but on the other hand, his words hint that he is eaten with secret envy at the path Montag has taken. After all, Icarus is a figure that culturally has been admired (along with being condemned) for his audacity in reaching for the stars, and he is often used as the metaphor for the artist, doomed to failure but determined anyway to soar.

The words are also ironic: Beatty believes he has won and that Montag is finished, but, in fact, it is the other way around.

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At the beginning of Part Three, Captain Beatty and Montag respond to a seemingly routine fire call but Montag is astonished to discover that he has been turned in for possessing books. Once they arrive at Montag's home, Captain Beatty tells him,

Old Montag wanted to fly near the sun and now that he's burnt his damn wings, he wonders why. (52)

Beatty is alluding to the mythical figure Icarus, who died a tragic death by flying too close to the sun. In the myth, Icarus and his father, Daedalus, were held captive on the island of Crete. Daedalus was an extraordinary inventor and engineer who managed to craft two pairs of wings out of wax. Although Daedalus warned his son to not fly too high, Icarus was overwhelmed by the thrill of flying and continued to fly towards the sun. Tragically, Icarus flew too close to the sun, which melted his wax wings, causing him to plummet to his death.

Beatty uses this allusion to describe Montag's decision to challenge the fireman institution by engaging in intellectual pursuits. Similar to Icarus, Montag pushed his luck by reading poetry aloud to his shallow wife and her friends, who eventually turned him in. Beatty recognizes that Montag attempted a nearly impossible feat and was unsuccessful, which is similar to the fate of Icarus. Fortunately, Montag uses the flamethrower to kill Captain Beatty and successfully flees the dystopian society.

It is also significant to note that a salamander and the phoenix are other mythological creatures used in the story. Salamanders are the names of the fire trucks and are on the logo of the fireman outfits. In part three, Granger mentions that the phoenix must have been "first cousin to Man" because if the way it continually destroyed and recreated itself.

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"Old Montag wanted to fly near the sun and now that he's burnt his damn wings, he wonders why" (113).

In Greek mythology, Icarus (or Ikaros) actually makes his wings out of wax and feathers. As he flies too close to the sun the wax melts, which destroys the wings and causes him to fall. Icarus was trying to escape the island of Crete, just like Montag is trying to escape and/or change his life. A connection can further be made between how Captain Beatty feels about books and the wax that holds Icarus's wings together. Beatty believes that books do not satisfy one's need to escape a hedonist society, just like wax could not ultimately hold together wings to carry a man safely away from his problems. Beatty explains:

"Give a man a few lines of verse and he thinks he's the Lord of all Creation. You think you can walk on water with your books. Well, the world can get by just fine without them. Look where they got you, in slime up to your lip" (118).

Thus, the above passage portrays Beatty's side of the argument that books do not help a person achieve happiness in life; rather, they hurt him. The ironic thing is that just about everything Beatty says is dripping with allusions to books that he's read. For instance, the above passage alludes to Christ from the Bible—twice. He wouldn't have known these references without books, which he divulges in part two to Montag, but he still maintains that his life is worse for having read books, not better. Either this is dramatic and verbal irony, or Beatty is simply a hypocrite.

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Beatty compares Montag to Icarus.

The firemen already use the mythological creates of the salamander and the phoenix on their uniforms.  When Montag tries to go rogue and read the books that society prohibits, Beatty compares him to the mythological Icarus, a man who tried to fly by making wings and accidently few too close to the sun, plunging to his death.

When Beatty comes to burn Montag’s house, he is non-apologetic and almost gleeful.

Old Montag wanted to fly near the sun and now that he's burnt his damn wings, he wonders why. (part 3)

Beatty looks on with “dry satisfaction” and Montag with disbelief.  Beatty comments that people act irresponsibly as if there are no consequences, but are shocked when there are.  This is ironic because Beatty is part of the establishment that burns the books so that people will remain in a blissful ignorance.

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