Pieter Brueghel’s painting “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” and William Carlos Williams’ ekphrastic poem of the same name ask students to consider the theme of man’s indifference to suffering. Both works suggest that life goes on amid casualties and suffering, illustrated by the bucolic setting of Icarus’s drowning. After examining the two sources, I would present the Victor Hugo conversation about suffering and ask students to form a claim based on any of these three sources. We would hold a debate in which they argue whether suffering has real value, as Hugo suggests, or whether it’s merely an everyday part of life.
Level: Secondary English/Language Arts
Subject Area: Poetry
Author: Tiffany Heitman