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
Consequently due to his personal growth as a character, Ishmael's divine spirit becomes saved and he himself is rescued from certain death. Captain Ahab remains unable to accept the concepts of transcendentalism, his pursuit of Moby-Dick is relentless and without mercy. His character has no opportunity for growth or discovery as he shuns the advice of everyone, whilst in pursuit of the white whale. Due to this his fate becomes irrevocably sealed and he is doomed to fail his mission and perish at the mercy of his quarry.
One might say we are presented with two fish stories in looking at Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, a marlin in the former and a whale in the latter. However, both of these animals are symbolic of the struggle their hunters face to find dignity and meaning in the face of a nihilistic universe in Hemingway and a fatalistic one in Melville. While both men will be unable to conquer the forces of the universe against them, neither will either man be conquered by them because of their refusal to yield to these insurmountable forces. However, Santiago gains a measure of peace and understanding about existence from his struggles, while Ahab leaves the
In the beginning of the novel, the whale has the reputation for being the “Largest sea monster”. Moby Dick looks at whales culturally, scientifically and traditionally. The author particularly wants this tale to have a sense of mystery. The whale is large, white, kills or injures men and cannot be seized or killed. Ahab identifies with the whale spiritually and intellectually. “The White Whale swam before him as the monomaniac incarnation of all those malicious agencies which some deep men feel eating in them” (41. 180). For more everyday men, the whale is a sign of sustenance. The whale itself means nothing. The natives worship it as a god; for others it means income, and in a spiritual moment, Ishmael even sees the whale as a symbol of his serenity. Melville makes it distinctive that it is ourselves who create our symbols. Moby Dick is the root of Ahab’s obsession and a key
Quote with context (step one): In the very first sentence of Moby Dick, Herman Melville introduces Ishmael as the sole narrator of the novel. He quickly reveals Ishmael’s intense desire to take part in a whaling voyage. However, Ishmael has trouble reconciling why he wants to do so; he explains, “I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage managers, the fates, put me down for this shabby part of a whaling voyage...yet, now that I recall all of the circumstances, I think I can see a little into the springs and motives which...induced me to set about performing the part I did” (Melville 7).
Throughout his novel, Moby Dick, Herman Melville will often devote entire chapters to the thoughts and actions of specific characters. Two specific examples of this type of chapter are Chapter 36, The Quarter-Deck, and Chapter 42, The Whiteness of the Whale. The first of these chapters depicts Ahab addressing his crew for the first time in order to convince them to hunt down Moby Dick. The second offers insight to the fear that is brought upon by the mere mention of Moby Dick The significance and effectiveness of each of these chapters are enhanced by Melville’s use of rhetoric and style respectively.
Moby Dick, a book about the voyages and pursuance of a white whale, was imagined by an incredible man. Herman Melville was a talented writer who wrote many fantasies and adventures, including Moby Dick. He’s most infamous for his work about the tale of the white whale and known less for his works of Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life and Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas. (“Herman
In the book Moby Dick, there were numerous themes, symbols, motifs but the main one that was the basis of the book was revenge. The book is about Ishmael, the narrator, who goes whaling in a ship called the Pequod, with people that have a significance in the story especially the captain, Ahab. Ahab has an obsession with catching a white whale named Moby Dick that took his leg and this obsession of getting revenge takes a turn for the worst and the everyone on the Pequod, except Ishmael, died. One question we might what to ask ourselves is, what is Captain Ahab taking revenge for? Is it for his leg, For his anger, For his suffering or is it for something totally different? Maybe it's for all of them. Whatever it may be, sometimes the torment is so incredible, and the requirement for retribution becomes so strong, that it festers inside and starts to devour us. Captain Ahab exemplifies the idea of a determined desire for vengeance and shows how it can decimate a man.
Aboard the Pequod, as the ship is bustling with activity, Melville describes the scene as the crew performs the grueling task of processing a whale. Large, bubbling try-pots of oil blubber fill the deck of the ship and a heavy smoke blankets the air as harpooners and sailors work regardless of the conditions. Through this familiar scene, Melville layers the setting and characters to build up a distinct mood for this passage. Specifically, he pulls dark romanticism into his writing by paralleling Ahab’s monomania and the deterioration of the crew. To establish an ominous atmosphere and describe the impending doom of the voyage, Herman Melville combines many forms of figurative language like sinister similes and the eerie personification of the Pequod with suspenseful imagery.
“If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.” (Melville 17) There is an overwhelming amount of evidence to support Ishmael’s love for the sea and is emphasized and returned to Ishmael in an ironic and humbling way from the “watery world”. In this adventurous journey, a young man named Ishmael sets out on a voyage to see the world and become a harpooner. He does not only discover a fierce whale representing his external influences but also his own internal self-revelation.
Herman Melville’s novels, with good reason, can be called masculine. Moby-Dick may, also with good reason, be called a man’s book and that Melville’s seafaring episode suggests a patriarchal, anti-feminine approach that adheres to the nineteenth century separation of genders. Value for masculinity in the nineteenth century America may have come from certain expected roles males were expected to fit in; I argue that its value comes from examining it not alone, but in relation to and in concomitance with femininity. As Richard H. Brodhead put it, Moby-Dick is “so outrageously masculine that we scarcely allow ourselves to do justice to the full scope of masculinism” (Brodhead 9). I concur with Brodhead in that remark, and that Melville’s
Moby-Dick is considered to be one of, if not the, best novels in American history. Harper & Brothers first published it in 1851 in New York. In England, it was published in the same year under the title, The Whale (“Moby Dick”). Melville explores topics and themes that were scarcely spoken of and never even seen in a novel. In the novel, the Pequod, which is the ship, is named after a Native American tribe that was exterminated when the white settlers arrived. It is a symbol of death and doom and foreshadows event that occur later in the novel. Melville brings some very controversial themes to light in the novel. Revenge is one of the main themes of Dark Romanticism and Melville uses it to drive every action taken by Ahab. This is seen early on in the novel as Ahab explains to the crew why he has a peg leg and that he wants to enact his revenge on Moby Dick (Melville 160-161). “Moby Dick is, fundamentally, a revenge tragedy. It’s about one man’s maniacal obsession with vengeance. It’s about finding an object on which to pin all you anger and fear and rage, not only about your own suffering, but also about the suffering of all mankind” (“Moby
His most famous book, Moby Dick, features the observant narrator, Ishmael, aboard the Pequot, a ship captained by the menacing one-legged Captain Ahab. Having lost his limb in a previous voyage to an enormous sperm whale named Moby Dick, Ahab scans the seven seas in manic search of revenge against the giant. Queequeg, Ishmael’s menacing best friend, and the rest of the crew are subjected to extreme jeopardy and later death due to Ahab’s monomaniacal disregard for bad omens and danger. The whale slices the boat clean in half and none survive to tells of its greatness except Ishmael.
Ishmael doesn’t only hear the stories about how he looks like but what he does as well. Day after day the Pequod sails further. The ship eventually reaches the Japanese borders. The crew goes to the Japanese seas because the people say that he usually comes here. They approach another ship and that ships captain tells them he lost his arm because of that whale. Captain Ahab wants to go faster because he knows that he is close.
While Ahab was still the obedient captain he once was, he was one of the most successful and higher rewarding captains. Unexpectedly, in the midst of a whaling, Ahab and his crew encountered the whale he now refers to as “Moby Dick” or “the white whale.” The crew initiated in capturing the whale, but this whale was different. Rather than capturing the whale, the whale captured Ahab and though Ahab escaped, he did not escape entirely. Moby Dick had dismembered and consumed half of one of Ahab’s legs. Ever since this incident, Ahab’s one and only desire or, as stated in the text, “...his one unsleeping, ever-pacing thought” has been to kill Moby Dick; which soon turns him obsessive (Melville). Ahab would not let anyone or anything stop him from achieving his goal, “...’I’ll chase him ‘round Good Hope, and ‘round the Horn, and ‘round the Norway Maelstrom, and ‘round
Herman Melville, in his renowned novel Moby-Dick, presents the tale of the determined and insanely stubborn Captain Ahab as he leads his crew, the men of the Pequod, in revenge against the white whale. A crew mixed in age and origin, and a young, logical narrator named Ishmael sail with Ahab. Cut off from the rest of society, Ahab attempts to make justice for his personal loss of a leg to Moby Dick on a previous voyage, and fights against the injustice he perceived in the overwhelming forces that surround him. Melville uses a series of gams, social interactions or simple exchanges of information between whaling ships at sea, in order to more clearly present man’s situation as he faces an existence whose meaning he cannot fully grasp.