In the Heart of the Sea

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  • Topic: Essex, Moby-Dick, Sperm whale
  • Pages : 4 (1492 words )
  • Download(s) : 144
  • Published : November 24, 2010
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In the Heart of the Sea
The novel “In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex,” by Nathaniel Philbrick, successfully tells the story of the whale ship Essex that was attacked by a sperm whale 1,500 nautical miles west of the Galapagos, 40 miles south of the equator. Many people know this as the story of “Moby Dick”, which was based off this event. The novel highlights three themes: man versus nature, survival, and suffering.

The novel starts out in the town of Nantucket, an island off the eastern coast of New England. Nantucket, at this time, is known as one of the most successful whaling ports. Docked on the port was the famous Essex, a 20 year whaling boat. The Essex is the pride of Nantucket. It is 87 feet long, 238 tons, equipped with 12 sails and carried several smaller whaling boats that were used when a whale was spotted. After lasting many years, the Essex developed a reputation for being a lucky ship. Many voyages lasted around two to three years in the Pacific Ocean. Many young boys, such as Thomas Nickerson, joined whaling crews at a young age. These crews were mixed of experienced whalers and “green hands,” men who have never sailed on a whaling ship. Usually, these new crew members would earn around $150 for two years work, so the experienced workers made the most of these “green hands.” Nantucket was known for its whale products, and was considered the whaling capital of the world. Whale oil was used to fuel lamps and making lamps (because there is no electricity, gas or kerosene). It is also used in margarine, shoe polish and soap. Baleen is a substance that comes from the mouths of the whale. They can be found in many women’s clothing. These two important goods come from whales and the only way to obtain the oil and baleen is to make a voyage out to see and find the whales.

At the beginning of the novel, we are introduced to the town of Nantucket and whaling business. His discussions of this set us up for the events...
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