The Many Myths of the Titanic?

On April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic slammed into an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean. Since that time, a whole mythology has sprung up around the Titanic, much of it questionable or downright false. What are some of the many myths of the Titanic?

Titanic at the Southampton docks (April 1912)

Titanic at the Southampton docks (April 1912)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Many Myths of the Titanic?

In the 1997 film Titanic, the movie portrayed third-class passengers, including Leonardo DiCaprio, being locked below deck to keep them from reaching the lifeboats. There’s just one problem with that scenario…there’s no evidence such a thing ever happened. Here’s more from BBC News on other Titanic myths:

In Cameron’s Titanic, the heroine’s mother looks up at the ship from the dock in Southampton and remarks: “So, this is the ship they say is unsinkable.”

But this is perhaps the biggest myth surrounding the Titanic, says Richard Howells, from Kings College London.¬†“It is not true that everyone thought this. It’s a retrospective myth, and it makes a better story. If a man in his pride builds an unsinkable ship like Prometheus stealing the fire from the gods… it makes perfect mythical sense that God would be so angry at such an affront that he would sink the ship on its maiden outing.”

Contrary to the popular interpretation the White Star Line never made any substantive claims that the Titanic was unsinkable – and nobody really talked about the ship’s unsinkability until after the event, argues Howells.

Although the sinking of the Titanic happened around 15 years after the birth of cinema, and the disaster featured heavily in the silent newsreels of the day, there was very little footage of the ship itself.¬†This was because the Titanic was not big news before it sank…”History turned into myth within hours and certainly days of the sinking,” agrees Richard Howells.

(See BBC News for more on the myths surrounding the Titanic)

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