The R V. Dudley And Stephens Case Essay

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The R v. Dudley and Stephens case occurred in 1884. In May of that year, four men left Southampton, England for Australia on the Mignonette, a private sailing yacht. These men were Captain Thomas Dudley (31), mate Edward Stephens (36), seaman Edmond Brooks (38), and cabin-boy Richard Parker (17). While crossing the South Atlantic near the Cape of Good Hope in July, bad weather struck the yacht and it sunk. The men managed to escape into the lifeboat, and two one-pound tins of turnips were the only food they subsisted on for four days. They caught a small turtle on the fourth day that lasted eight days, and were without food for another eight days after. The only fresh water they had was the rain that came from time to time. On the sixteenth day of drifting Richard Parker became ill from drinking seawater. On the eighteenth day Dudley and Stephens approached Brooks with the idea that they should sacrifice one person to save the rest. Brooks dissented, and they did not consult Parker as he was ill. On July 24th Dudley and Stephens reasoned with Brooks, saying that since they had families to take care of it was most logical to kill the boy and save themselves. They proposed that if there were no vessels in sight the next day they would kill Parker. As there were no vessels, Dudley killed Parker by slitting his throat; the boy was so ill he did not resist. Brooks dissented until Parker’s death, but also fed on the blood and flesh of Parker with the two accused for four days.

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