The relationship between modern family and mythology family with lurking insecurities
| In the myth of Daedalus and Icarus, a talented artisan and his son become imprisoned in the labyrinth, a maze that Daedalus himself built to keep prying eyes out and the shameful Minotaur in. Much like with Alison Bechdel’s “Old Father, Old Artificer” the lies and secrets between a father and his daughter allowed cracks in the ideal family’s façade, and ultimately led to their downturn.
The family looks like the quintessential All- American family with the ideal husband, wife and two boys and a girl. However it was just a sham, because the father used his “Skillful artifice not to make things, but to make things appear what they were not.” (Bechdel, pg.886) One example, is George having his secret that was ‘perfectly disguised’, unbeknownst to everyone but with a skillful eye. George is constantly trying to uphold the iconic image of the All-American family. However beneath the finely veiled perception of family, lies George’s very own labyrinthine life. Daedalus conceived a plan to escape the labyrinth, by constructing a pair of wings out of wax. Having built the maze Daedalus was acutely aware of how to escape the imprisonment of his creation. Using his only child to further his achievements and was entirely indifferent to the sacrifices Icarus made for him. Much like how George used his children, as his very own Labyrinth by allowing them to seem like the perfect family with no troubles and cares in the world. Where in reality the Minotaur was more present than ever, not allowing the children to be shown affection. Just like Daedalus and Icarus, George and Alison have a complex parent/child relationship, due to the fact that the father saw his children more as pieces of improving the authenticity of his grand life and house much like a “still life with children.” (Bechdel, pg.882) George’s idea of children was not from love or passion but by necessity and cultural norms. He saw his children, Alison in particular as “extensions of himself” (Bechdel, 883).Making sure that there image from society coincided with the roles and outlooks George, himself deems appropriate. However on the rare occasion there would be pleasant moments between father and daughter, but most were moments of heightened tension. “If we couldn’t criticize my father, showing affection for him was an even deicer venture.” (Bechdel, pg. 889) Daedalus’ greatest creation was also his greatest mistake; because of the sins he committed Icarus and himself were destined to be trapped with their very own Minotaur’s. Took hold of nothing. Father! He cried, and Father! Until the blue sea bushed him, the dark water (Ovid, Ln. 50-55) “Was Daedalus really stricken with grief when Icarus fell into the sea? Or just Disappointed by the design failure?”(Bechdel, pg.882) Perhaps it was the father’s need for control and perfection that he took it upon himself. “My father could spin garbage into gold; he could transfigure a room with the smallest offhand flourish… He was an alchemist of appearance, Savant of surface, Daedalus of décor.” (Bechdel, pg.876) ‘[Daedalus] turned his thinking toward unknown arts, changing the laws of nature.’(Ovid, Ln.6) George was persistent in making Alison look like a girl and color coordinating her clothes, while Alison was content with a bob haircut and cut off shorts. He was adamant about disguising his labyrinthine self and in turn changing the lives of those around him.