Monday, April 28, 2014

Piracy and Adventure

One of the things that I find most interesting in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket is the tension between the two parties of mutineers between turning to piracy and seeking adventure in the Pacific Ocean. We have yet to encounter an adventure in a non-arctic climate so we have not yet examined whether open water piracy represents an adventure or not. Clearly many of the mutineers view piracy as a more appealing adventure than sailing the Pacific to explore as we constantly hear of crew members ditching Peters' party for the first mate.

I am struggling with whether piracy is an adventure because, to my knowledge, pirates don't set specific goals when they set sail. Yes, they want to plunder and find treasure, but their seafaring adventures are nothing like the trans-arctic and antarctic epics of endurance that we have studied so far. In many ways pirates view adventure the same way that Earnest Shackleton did pre-Endurance, as a means to a financial goal. However, I think that the lack of specific goals makes piracy not an adventure based on the definition that we have been using.


  1. Piracy the idea is not an adventure, just like mountaineering itself is not an adventure. They do have goals; excitement, money, and women. What I think are missing in "piracy" to be an adventure are specific events. Capturing a boat and taking it over could be construed as an adventure. It is not portrayed as a valid/respectable adventure (not in the sense of right/wrong but worthy of being an adventure) in this book.

  2. I'm not sure as to whether piracy is an adventure or not. It seems like ambiguity plays a large role in adventure and the books we have read this semester including "Pym." I was pretty confused at the end of the novel, but this ambiguity--the room for interpretation between the writer and reader--appeals to me because I can bring my own meaning to the end of the novel. Why couldn't piracy be an adventure? A ship takeover could go as unpredictably as a Mount Everest climb because those experiences are bound in nature, and nature, both our internal and external nature, is always changing.

  3. But isn't being a pirate already an adventure? While I agree in this book it is not portrayed as a respectable adventure, I disagree that is it not valid. The validity in "piracy" as an adventure is innately in the fact that pirates are adventurers. They set out on the water with purpose and direction, yet can change course depending on where the wealth is.