The Voyages of Captain Cook Essay - Critical Essays

Dorothy Hoobler, Thomas Hoobler


The Hooblers intended in The Voyages of Captain Cook to describe Cook’s achievement for young adult readers. By relying largely on Cook’s own journals as their main historical source, they attempt to retell his story from his point of view. Although Cook’s account is supplemented at various points by the opinions of others at the scene, Cook remains at the center of the narrative.

Cook’s voyages encompassed several purposes, not all of them in harmony with the others. Scientific, cartographic, trade, and colonial impulses jockeyed for position among the goals assigned to Captain Cook by the British government. In his first voyage, beginning in the late 1760’s, his goal was ostensibly to trace an important astronomical event, the transits of Venus. The second voyage was primarily geographic and cartographic; the third voyage, which had as one of its objectives the return of the South Pacific islander Omai to his home, was also intended to seek that ever-elusive goal of a Northwest Passage.

Yet the public objectives of Cook were very often overtaken by the force of events. His first voyage was suggested and sponsored by the Royal Society of London, the most important scientific society in eighteenth century England, as a means of tracking the 1769 transits of Venus, an event that would not recur for more than a century. The appointment of Joseph Banks as the Endeavour’s scientist significantly shifted that ostensible goal, however, as...

(The entire section is 608 words.)