Summary and Analysis: Medicine for Melancholy
Icarus Montgolfier Wright
This story takes place the night before the first manned rocket is fired to the surface of the moon. The rocket's pilot, Jedediah Prentiss, dreams of what this trip will be like and what it will mean to the world. In his dream, Jedediah hears voices calling him Icarus Montgolfier Wright. He dreams he is Icarus, the first "pilot" to test man's earthly limitations. He also assumes the identity of Montgolfier, the first man to fly in a balloon, and Orville Wright, the first man to pilot a plane successfully. As he dreams, Jedediah relives the thrill and the adventure of flight that each man experienced long ago. He realizes that, indeed, he is Icarus Montgolfier Wright because his hopes, his determination, and his reasons for making his first space flight are the same ones that belonged to the other men. He knows that his flight into space may mean ultimate death for himself, but if he is successful, his flight will mean that he and all people might hear the "unmeasured breathing of God."
In addition to the idea presented here of the universality of the pioneering spirit, this story depicts a major tenet of Bradbury's own philosophy concerning space travel. Jedediah's statement that his flight may bring people closer to God is essentially Bradbury's own belief, for Bradbury is convinced that the more frequently that man travels in space, the more religious he will become because of the many mysteries that he will encounter there.