"The Wreck of the Hesperus" and the Perfect Storm

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The More Powerful Sea Disaster Story

Some of the most intriguing stories of today are about people's adventures at sea and the thrill and treachery of living through its perilous storms and disasters. Two very popular selections about the sea and its terrors are The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger and "The Wreck of the Hesperus" by Henry Longfellow. Comparison between the two works determines that "The Wreck of the Hesperus" tells a more powerful sea-disaster story for several different reasons. The poem is more descriptive and suspenseful than The Perfect Storm, and it also plays on a very powerful tool to captivate the reader's emotion. These key aspects combine to give the reader something tangible that allows them to relate to the story being told and affects them strongly. A common person's knowledge about sea disasters comes from what they have read in books and articles, and what they see on TV and in movies. The average person does not get to experience the fury of a hurricane while on a boat. In order to capture the audience's attention, consideration to details and vivid descriptions are needed to paint a realistic picture in their minds. For this reason, the stories have to provide all of the intricate details. In The Perfect Storm, the story starts out with a radio call, not a dramatic scene that immediately foreshadows the possibility of danger. Rather than describing the storm and its fury, the only mention of the setting is of the visibility and the height of waves. However, in "The Wreck of the Hesperus", the poem begins by stating there is a hurricane possible right away. The current weather conditions are pointed out to the reader as shown in the following quote.

"Colder and louder blew the wind,
A gale from the Northeast,
The snow fell hissing in the brine,
And the billows frothed like yeast."
(Longfellow 125)
The realistic adjectives paint a picture that the average person can relate to and understand. As shown...
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