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The Story “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane

“The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane is a story about the victim of a shipwreck who spent 30 days stranded at sea. The central theme of the story is the idea that nature is unforgiving, which contrasts with the sentiments of Romanticism writers. For instance, poets from the Romanticism era found peace and happiness in nature, suggesting that it was man’s friend. However, despite the Romanticists reverence of nature, Crane’s short story reveals the dark side of the natural environment through his harrowing experience at sea.

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The four characters in the short story are victims of the random actions of nature; their ship has sunk after hitting a sandbar. After this experience the characters are morose and dejected, while hoping that help will come their way. The attitudes of the characters suggest that they are angry at nature because of the misfortune that has befallen them. Instead of being happy- for example taking pleasure at the vastness of the sea, they see it as the source of their problems. The narrator’s description of the sea also suggests that the characters are antagonistic towards it. He States:

None of them knew the color of the sky. Their eyes glanced level, and were fastened upon the waves that swept toward them… The horizon narrowed and widened, and dipped and rose, and at all times its edge was jagged with waves that seemed thrust up in points like rocks (Crane 3).

This description of the sea portrays it as a malicious monster intent on destroying those who venture into its territory. For instance, the high waves appear intimidating, as if threatening to swallow the victims. The fear that the characters experience contrasts with the sense of ease and calmness that Romanticists enjoy while in the midst of nature. In this regard, it is arguable that Crane’s “The Open Boat” rejects the Romanticists depiction of nature as a place where humans can experience tranquility.

Work Cited

Crane, Stephen. 1898. The Open Boat and Other Tales of Adventure. New York: Doubleday & McClure Co, 1898.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "The Story “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane." February 19, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-story-the-open-boat-by-stephen-crane/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'The Story “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane'. 19 February.

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