The RMS Titanic; A Tragedy Based on Class.
In April, 1912, the so called “unsinkable” Titanic set sail to New York. The great ship was as big as five city blocks, and weighed thousands and thousands of tons. Everyone who was everyone grabbed a room on the luxurious ship for the trip of a lifetime.
On April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg an sank into the icy depths of the North Atlantic. People were shocked at the news of the “unsinkable” Titanic sinking and this disbelief was due to the 19th Century’s reliance on science and industry to solve problems. When people set eyes on the most luxurious and biggest ship ever, they easily presumed it unsinkable. The Titanic, along with it’s size, had watertight doors and could keep afloat if four of it’s bottom compartments were fully flooded. So people safely assumed that they had overcame God’s power and that their great science and industry reigned supreme. This type of thought led to the quote, “God himself could not sink this ship!”(A Night to Remember p. 31)
Other things that contributed to the reliance on science and industry were inventions in the Industrial Revolution, such as steam power. Steam power revolutionized transportation and brought about great changes to the dependability on ships such as Titanic, which used steam power. Also, during the Industrial Revolution, science was used to solve many problems and help out the birth of many great inventions. These inventions solved many problems, so whenever there were any problems, people turned to science for the answer.
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When Titanic struck the iceberg, a screeching sound was heard along the ship. People who were sleeping were woken and people playing cards were disturbed. People close to the collision could feel the vibration of the holes being punctured into the side of the ship. Those on the deck could see the huge iceberg weighing thousands of tons pass by like a dark cloud of death.
Still, there was no panic. Many people just did not realize the severity of the crash at first. They went along with their card games, their brandy drinking, and their socializing on deck. Some people even played casually with the ice. When people realized that the iceberg had punctured the side of the ship, still there was no panic. Passengers relied on science and industry to keep them afloat. When the crew went from room to room throwing life jackets at passengers and ordering them to put them on, this was considered as just a precaution. Some passengers asked to have tea ready for them when the return to their rooms.
When people could see the Titanic was sinking, still there was no alarm. People were asked to get into lifeboats and many refused. “We are safer here than in that little boat,” remarked one passenger(A Night to Remember p. 43).
Some people were securing their stay on the Titanic after they get out of the lifeboats. “When you get back you’ll need a pass. You can’t get back on tomorrow morning without a pass,” yelled one woman to the lifeboats being lowered into the Atlantic(A Night to Remember p. 43).
People were still confident that Titanic would stay afloat even though it was going down.
Along with the assurance of science and industry was the Victorian Age. In the Victorian Age lurked a mask of proper behavior and social class. When the Titanic was going down, most people did not scurry about like rodents. This was not proper. To be proper you must not rush, women and children first, and always remember social class. Survivors from the Titanic say that a band was playing as the Titanic was going down, no matter what the situation, in the Victorian Age it was a formal affair. The rich dressed in their best attire, some refusing life jackets and demanding brandy when they return.
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Another very important factor about the sinking of Titanic was social class. When the situation was underway, first class women and children were lowered into the already limited lifeboats. Then the first class men, then the second class women and children, and the second class men, all while the third class dogs were locked in their hallways downstairs on E deck. Aboard Titanic, it was almost as if you had to wait in line to live.
The Titanic was a serious tragedy, and will be remembered forever by the world. The reliance on science and industry and the behavior during the Victorian Age all played a huge factor in the sinking of the Titanic. In this age where a working class man relied on the scientists to solve his problems while he worries about his strict morals, nature was not respected at all. The Titanic sank because it hit an iceberg, but it also sank due to ignorance. The ignorance that man can beat God and that man can beat nature. Man was taught an important lesson on April 14, 1912.
1) Armstrong, Sandra and Alicia Taylor. “Socialism in the Victorian Age.” URL: http://www.esc8.net/daingerfield/ape/victorian/victorian_age.html (April 28, 1998).
2) Cody, David. “Social Class in the Victorian Web.” URL: http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/hypertext/landow/victorian/history/Class.html (March 25, 1998)
3) Lord, Walter. A Night to Remember. New York: Bantam Books. 1955.
4) Lynch, Don, Ken Marschall, and Robert D. Ballard. Titanic: an Illustrated History.
1) Ontario, Canada: Madison Press Books. 1992.