A Descent into the Maelström

related topics
{god, call, give}
{film, series, show}
{ship, engine, design}
{work, book, publish}
{island, water, area}
{water, park, boat}
{black, white, people}

"A Descent into the Maelström" is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. In the tale, a man recounts how he survived a shipwreck and a whirlpool. It has been grouped with Poe's tales of ratiocination and also labeled an early form of science fiction.

Contents

Plot

Inspired by the Moskstraumen, it is couched as a story within a story, a tale told at the summit of a mountain climb in Lofoten, Norway. The story is told by an old man who reveals that he only appears old—"You suppose me a very old man," he says, "but I am not. It took less than a single day to change these hairs from a jetty black to white, to weaken my limbs, and to unstring my nerves." The narrator, convinced by the power of the whirlpools he sees in the ocean beyond, is then told of the "old" man's fishing trip with his two brothers a few years ago.

Driven by "the most terrible hurricane that ever came out of the heavens", their ship was caught in the vortex. One brother was pulled into the waves; the other was driven mad by the horror of the spectacle, and drowned as the ship was pulled under. At first the narrator only saw hideous terror in the spectacle. In a moment of revelation, he saw that the Maelström is a beautiful and awesome creation. Observing how objects around him were pulled into it, he deduced that "the larger the bodies, the more rapid their descent" and that spherical-shaped objects were pulled in the fastest. Unlike his brother, he abandoned ship and held on to a cylindrical barrel until he was saved several hours later. The old man tells the story to the narrator without any hope that the narrator will believe it.

Analysis

The story's opening bears a similarity to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798): in both, an excited old man tells his story of shipwreck and survival.[1] The tale is one of sensation, emphasizing the narrator's thoughts and feelings, especially his terror of being killed in the whirlpool.[2] The narrator uses his reasoning skills to survive and the story is considered one of Poe's early examples of science fiction.[3]

Full article ▸

related documents
Nick of Time (The Twilight Zone)
The Sandman: A Game of You
Psychopomp
The Brentford Trilogy
Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.²
Against a Dark Background
Hagbard Celine
Max and Moritz
Wizard and Glass
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
The Passover Plot
The Vampire Lestat
Obelix
Contemporary fantasy
Thersites
The Man Who Would Be King
Baku (spirit)
Mirror Image
The Patchwork Girl of Oz
Heka (god)
Nammu
Meskhenet
Mucalinda
Glamis Castle
Varaha
Pulotu
Prajapati
Imiut fetish
Laka
Pachacamac