Herman Melville 's Moby Dick

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In literature, the truly memorable characters are those special individuals that arouse powerful emotions in the reader. Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick contains a man who is among the unforgettable characters of literature: Ahab, sea-captain of the whaling ship the Pequod. Ahab is a mysterious figure to Ishmael, the narrator of the tale, at first. Despite the captain’s initial reclusiveness, Ishmael gradually comes to understand the kind of man that Ahab is and, most importantly, the singular obsession he possesses: finding the white whale, Moby Dick, the beast that bit off his leg. The hunt for Moby Dick (and, correspondingly, the idea that Moby Dick represents) is the critical component of Ahab’s personality, and Melville makes that all-important idea known to the reader very quickly. Melville richly characterizes Ahab, a man solely devoted to taking his revenge on Moby Dick, through the use of literary devices, such as allusion, metaphor, and simile, as well as Ahab’s own words to develop Ahab’s personality and aid the reader in understanding the man himself, the driving force behind the Pequod’s fateful whaling voyage. The literary device of allusion is the first and most prominent technique that Melville uses to build Ahab’s character. When Ishmael is searching for a ship to carry him and Queequeg, his cannibal friend, on a whaling voyage, he first goes aboard the Pequod, where he meets Captains Peleg and Bildad. However, Peleg and Bildad tell Ishmael that they are not in

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