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Man Versus Nature Essay

1398 words - 6 pages

For as long as man has walked the Earth, he has engaged in a constant battle with the forces of nature. Whether it may be an expedition to the summit of Everest or the taming of a wild tiger, man has continuously challenged, and attempted to control the uncontrollable elements of his environment.Surfers drop in to the twenty-foot breakers of the banzai pipeline on the north shore of Oahu. Men armed with high caliber rifles storm through the African wilderness hunting lions. Mountaineers take on summits like K2 and Everest for a chance to stand on the top of the world. Throughout history, men have considered themselves worthy of such challenges. Believing themselves to be just about invincible, their egos inflated from decades of technological achievements and a false sense of superiority. Nonetheless, some men have a sense of respect for the awesome forces the planet has to offer and some, on the other hand, have a complete lack of such respect.Take, for example, The Open Boat by Stephen Crane. It is the tale of a group of shipwrecked men. They are attacking the rough seas in a ten-foot dinghy and have probably never felt as insignificant as they do now, climbing one monstrous wave only to drop down and be faced with another. It is a battle of man versus nature in its purest form. A physically and mentally draining fight for survival ensues as each time they move closer towards the shore, they are pulled back out to sea. "If I am going to be drowned - if I am going to be drowned - if I am going to be drowned, why in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees? Was I brought here merely to have my nose dragged away as I was about to nibble the sacred cheese of life?" (Crane, The Open Boat, p.749) These words enhance the emotions of the entire crew, each one of them beaten back by the violent, merciless humor of the sea. You could clearly see that each character, clinging on to their last shred of hope, were slowly beginning to break. Confronted with a situation that may end in death, is a battle within itself. The human element is brought to light here. They realize how very insignificant they are in respect to the rest of the world; that the sea could easily sweep them away forever and it would make very little difference at all.The captain, who has commanded many journeys of the sea, senses defeat rather early in the story. "The injured captain, lying in the bow, was at this time buried in that profound dejection and indifference which comes, temporarily at least, to even the bravest and most enduring when, willy nilly, the firm fails, the army loses, the ship goes down." (Crane, The Open Boat, p.744) The situation at hand seems to pose more of a personal battle in his case. "The mind of the master of a vessel is rooted deep in the timbers of her, though he command for a day or a decade." It is as if he has already lost this fight. He was well aware of the situation as he lay in...

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