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In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex Setting & Symbolism

Nathaniel Philbrick
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Nantucket

Nantucket is an island off the eastern coast of New England. During the early nineteenth century, it was one of the most prominent whaling ports in the United States and was the homeport for the Essex. By 1835, Nantucket was gradually losing its prominence in the whaling business to New Bedford and other deep-water ports.

In 1846, a fire ripped through town, destroying nearly a third of it, including the waterfront and oil warehouses. Although the town was rebuilt quickly, many residents left for California when gold was discovered there in 1848. The town's population shrank. In the twentieth century, the town came back as a thriving summer resort.

The Essex

The Essex at 87 feet long and 238 tons, was an old whaleship by 1819, but she had a reputation as being a lucky ship. It sailed from Nantucket on August 12, 1819. A large bull sperm whale attacked the ship on November 20, 1820. The...

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This section contains 575 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex Study Guide
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