The Sea in Nineteenth-Century English and American Literature Criticism: Major Figures In American Sea Fiction—Cooper And Melville - Essay

Robert J. Schwendinger (essay date 1973)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Language of the Sea: Relationships between the Language of Herman Melville and Sea Shanties of the Nineteenth Century,” in Southern Folklore Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 1, March, 1973, pp. 53-73.

[In the following essay, Schwendinger studies the similarities between Melville's language and the language of nineteenth-century sea shanties—songs with a swinging, or lilting rhythm, often sung by sailors while onboard ship.]

Over the years Herman Melville's language becomes the language of the sea as do sea shanties of the 19th Century, and similarities exist between both, in tone, symbols, figurative language, and subject matter. That Melville was concerned...

(The entire section is 8080 words.)

William Hamilton (essay date 1979)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Melville and the Sea,” in Soundings, Vol. 62, No. 4, Winter, 1979, pp. 417-29.

[In the following essay, Hamilton discusses Moby-Dick's sea in terms of its theological significance to Melville.]

For I say there is no other thing that is worse than the sea is
For breaking a man, even though he may be a very strong one.

Homer, Odyssey, VIII, lines 138-39

In Moby Dick the sea appears to mean virtually everything. It is the home of both the nursing whale-mothers and the rapacious shark. It has a serenity that can nearly cure Ahab's monomania; it is also darkness and death. It is in any case the primary...

(The entire section is 5063 words.)

Charles H. Adams (essay date 1988)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Cooper's Sea Fiction and The Red Rover,” in Studies in American Fiction, Vol. 16, No. 2, Autumn, 1988, pp. 155-68.

[In the following essay, Adams argues that Cooper's sea novels generally take place in a sort of middle ground between the shore and the sea—a neutral area that metaphorically represents the hero's inner conflict between authority and personal liberation.]

Cooper's sea novels generally blur the traditional distinction in maritime literature between sea and shore. The dichotomy persists in Cooper's works between the shore as a realm of conflict and the sea as one of resolution between, as W. H. Auden puts it in The Enchaféd...

(The entire section is 6900 words.)