Titanic: End Of An Era (Mla Format) Essay, Research Paper
“RMS TITANIC: END OF AN ERA”
Titanic still captures our imaginations after 85 years because her story is like a great novel that really happened. The story couldn’t have been written better…the juxtaposition of rich and poor, the gender roles played out unto death (women first), the stoicism and nobility of a bygone age, the magnificence of the great ship matched in scale only by the folly of the men who drove her hell bent throughout the darkness. And above all the lesson: that life is uncertain, the future unknowable…the unthinkable possible.
2,227 souls aboard. 1522 dead. Only 705 were saved, when 1360 or more could have been. Discover what happened that fateful night, hear how Dr. Ballard discovered the ship in her final resting place, and learn how James Cameron’s blockbuster movie was made. Journey back now, to TITANIC.
The Royal Mail Ship TITANIC was the last grand dream of a Guilded Age. It was designed to be the greatest achievement of an era of prosperity, confidence, and propriety (Paramount 1). Although no one knew it, the world was about to change drastically. Radio had been invented in 1901. The Wright Brothers’ first successful flight was in 1903. The old presumptions about class, morals, and gender-roles were about to be shattered. If the concept of Titanic was the climax of the age, then perhaps its sinking was the curtain that marked the end of an old drama and the start of a new one (1).
The intensely competitive transatlantic steamship business had seen recent major advances in ship design, size, and speed. White Star Line, one of the leaders, was determined to focus on size and elegance rather than pure speed. In 1907, White Star Line’s managing director, J. Bruce Ismay, and Lord James Pirrie, a partner in Harland & Wolff (White Star Line’s ship-builder since its founding in 1869) conceived of three magnificent steam ships which would set a new standard for comfort, elegance, and safety. The first two were to be named Olympic and Titanic, the latter name chosen by Ismay to convey a sense of overwhelming size and strength (1).
Titanic was 883 feet long (1/6 of a mile), 92 feet wide, and weighed 46,328 tons. She was 104 feet tall from keel to bridge, almost 35 feet of which were below the waterline. Even so, she stood taller above the water than most urban buildings f the time. There were three real smoke stacks and a fourth, a dummy, added largely to increase the impression of her gargantuan size and power, and to vent smoke from her kitchen and galleys. She was the largest moveable object ever made by man. The ship’s immense size and complexity is demonstrated by an incident recalled by Second Officer Lightoller. There was a gangway door on the starboard side aft “large enough to drive a horse and cart through.” Yet, three officers who joined the ship during her preparations spent a whole day simply trying to find their way to it (3).
Moreover, she was designed to be a marvel of modern safety technology. She had a double hull of one inch thick steel plates and a (heavily publicized) system of 16 water-tight compartments, sealed by massive doors which could be instantly triggered by a single electric switch on the bridge, or even automatically by electric water sensors. The press began to call her “unsinkable” (3).
Her accommodations were the most modern and luxurious on any ocean, and included electric light and heat in every room, electric elevators, a swimming pool, a squash court (considered terribly modern), a Turkish Bath, a gymnasium with a mechanical horse and mechanical camel to keep riders fit, and staterooms and first class facilities to rival the best hotels on the continent (Nichol 5). First class passengers would glide down a six-story, glass-domed
grand staircase to enjoy haughte cuisine in the sumptuous first class dining saloon that filled the width of the ship on D Deck. For those who desired a more intimate atmosphere, Titanic also offered a stately ? le carte restaurant, the chic Palm Court, and Verandah restaurant, and the festive caf? Parisien. She offered two musical ensembles (rather than the standard one) of the best musicians on the planet, many of them lured from rival liners. There were two libraries, first- and second-class. Even the third class (steerage) cabins were more luxurious than the first-class cabins on some lesser steam ships, and boasted amenities (like indoor toilet facilities) that some of the Titanic’s emigrant passengers had not enjoyed in their own homes (Paramount 3).
The original design called for 32 lifeboats. However, White Star Management felt that the boat-deck would not look cluttered, and reduced the number to twenty, for a total lifeboat capacity of 1178. This actually exceeded the regulations of the times, even though the Titanic was capable of carrying over 3500 people (passengers and crew) (4).
The journey began at South Hampton on Wednesday, April 10, 1912 at noon. By sundown, Titanic stopped in Cherbourg, France, to pick up additional passengers. That evening she sailed for Queenstown, Ireland, and at 1:30 PM on Thursday, April 11, she headed o