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Romantic Confrontation

Romantic Confrontation


Shark Attack

'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,' from Classics Illustrated, No. 47, front cover, Verne, Jules, published by Gilberton Company, Inc.: New York, USA

The intrepid ocean explorer Captain Nemo encounters a deadly shark, prompting Nemo to kill or be killed. His enemy proves its dangerous potential by knocking one of Nemo’s crew unconscious. Ultimately, man triumphs as the captain plunges his harpoon into the creature’s heart, symbolically killing not only the animal, but also its wild spirit.



Curious Polar Bear

‘Gordon Keith, Whaler; or, A Chase Through The Frozen North’, Brave and Bold Weekly, No. 266, selection from front cover, Jan. 25 1908, White, Lawrence, Jr., published by Street and Smith: New York, USA

In this humorous, but deadly, tale, a group of whalers thrice encounter polar bears in the north. The narrator blames the first confrontation on the fact that “a bear is the most curious animal in existence," which leads it to investigate a human establishment.[1] The second meeting occurs by mere chance, and the third by human intention to hunt. While the creatures do not initially express violent behavior, their strength has potential for great damage. The narrator comments that “the average unwounded bear – unless ravenously hungry – is timid and nervous, and has a particular horror of loud noises," although “there is no bear so dangerous as a badly wounded one."[2] So depicted as relatively harmless unless provoked, all ursine creatures are dispatched, and their hides and meat collected. The cover image illustrates a scene in which a man goes on the offensive, to the cheers of his colleagues, while the bear, eyes wide in fear, attempts to flee. This particular story represents the polar bear not as an intentionally rogue animal, but as a worthy adversary in a fight, and thus highly prized for killing. In the end, one can say that the polar bear has the last laugh, its meat being toxic to humans.



[1] ‘Gordon Keith, Whaler; or, A Chase Through The Frozen North’, Brave and Bold Weekly, No. 266, p. 23, Jan. 25 1908, White, Lawrence, Jr., published by Street and Smith: New York, USA

[2] Ibid. p. 24-25