The Wreck of the Hesperus and The Highwayman: A Compare and Contrast Essay on Love, Triumph and Betrayal
Jordan Harper Pd. A4
Hunter S. Thompson once said, “For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled.” In the ballads ‘The Wreck of the Hesperus” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes, they share similar as well as different purposes. Although Noyes’ poem demonstrates that eternal love will triumph over betrayal, and Longfellow’s poem reveals the tragic outcome of a sea captain’s pride, both poems share specific literary and poetic elements.
In Longfellow’s poem “The Wreck of the Hesperus”, the poem is told as a story in poetic form, known as a narrative poem. “Hesperus” takes place in 1839 off Norman’s Reef near Gloucester, Massachusetts. The protagonists are the skipper and his daughter. His daughter could be described as blue-eyed, hair like brown sea weed and rosy cheeked. The skipper smokes pipe and is glassy eyed with a scornful laugh. The antagonist in this story is the hurricane, it killed our protagonists. Minor characters are the other people on the boat as well as the captain. We don’t hear about them throughout the poem. In Wreck of the Hesperus, we experience a Man v. Nature conflict described as the overconfidence of the captain by facing the sea during the hurricane. The point of no
return is when the father doesn’t answer the daughter. There is a common bond between the skipper and his daughter. “It was the schooner Hesperus, /that sailed the wintry sea; / and the skipper had taken his little daughter/ to bear him company” (Lines 1-4) The falling action in The Wreck of the Hesperus is the continuation of the hurricane and discovering the dead girl. In resolution, the narrator implores Christ to save us from a death like this. In the poem, there was an allusion based on Christ. “And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave, / on the Lake of Galilee.” (Lines 55-56)...
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