5 Visions of Captain Cook Essay

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5 visions of Captain Cook An enduring aspect of human identity is our respect and acknowledgement of great and successful humans in the past. Slessor idealises Cook in 5 Visions of Captain Cook, presenting a highly romanticised view of a man’s heroic masculinity that encourages the reader to ponder over the nature and qualities that distinguish a great individual from mediocrity. The first Vision draws on the supernatural superstitions of Cook’s time by alluding to the mythical Kraken and evil eye to emphasise the courage of sea captains in “the powder days.” and actions in preserving the lives of their crew. The juxtaposition of Cook with materialistic sea captains of the present, “When sea captains were kings like this/Not cold executives of company rules.” further highlights this romantic idealistic portrayal of Cook that can be seen throughout the entire poem. His supernatural qualities to the uneducated sailors under his command are emphasised through the vivid imagery in the first vision comparing captains to ‘Daemons in periwigs, doling magic out.’ Slessor continues to define a hero as being fearless and adventurous, as metaphorically embodied within the description of his decision of sailing south to Australia, “into the devil’s mouth.” as opposed to Tasman and Bougainville. The impact of Cook’s leadership generates a sense of calm with the imagery of “three very peaceful English mariners/ taking their sights for longitude,” in the face of danger of hitting a coral reef as they attempt to land on Australia’s coast. By presenting the Fourth vision from the perspective of Cook’s midshipmen, Slessor ultimately elevates him to being a deity with the hyperbolic imagery, “sometimes the god would fold his wings.” in their eyes. Slessor concludes by painting a highly romanticised vision of his death, and by doing so emphasises how Cook, by dying young, preserves

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