In literature, the truly memorable characters are those special individuals that arouse powerful emotions in the reader. Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick presents a man who is undoubtedly among the unforgettable characters of literature: Ahab, sea-captain of the whaling ship the Pequod. At first, Ahab is a mysterious figure to Ishmael, the narrator of the tale. 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 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
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
A vengeful man, a native, and a man seeking enlightenment board a whaling vessel; this isn’t a joke, this is the United States of America throughout history and the members of the Pequod. Moby Dick is not just a tale about a whaling venture gone awry, it is a metaphor
Published in 1851, the story of Moby-Dick is not just the tale of one mans search for control over nature, but also the story of friendship, alienation, fate and religion that become intertwined amidst the tragedy that occurs upon the doomed Pequod. The crew itself are an amalgamation of cultures, from the cannibal Queequeg, to Starbuck, "a native of Nantucket." The Pequod can thus be seen as a microcosm for immigrants and whaling within America. In Moby-Dick Herman Melville examines both the exploitation of whaling and the reality of being born outside of America.
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
In Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, whiteness or the lack of whiteness plays a significant role. The whiteness of Ahab, Ishmael, and other sailors, and the lack of whiteness of Queequeg, and the whiteness of nonhuman components, like the whale and the ship, address the subject of race. Melville uses the motif of whiteness and the lack of whiteness to convey the theme that the white man’s reign in American is ultimately doomed.
Whiteness of the whale: The whiteness that coats the whale represents to Ishmael all that is unnatural and frightening. It conveys meaning on the extremes. Either the whiteness conveys a lack of any meaning, or people are unable to comprehend its excess meaning. The whiteness of Moby Dick represents for different people different things. To Ahab, the lack of color on the whale represents his evil nature. To Ishmael, it represents an unnatural being. Ishmael failed to ever bring about scientifically the nature of the whale, so it is to him,
"Do human beings have free will or free choice and if not who or what shapes human destiny?" (McSweeney 9) Herman Melville utilizes Father Mapple's sermon in his nineteenth century epic novel Moby Dick, to illustrate the duality of mankind. Mortal man pursues his own singular interests with selfish intent; however, God has prevailing intentions, which are often beyond the comprehension of the individual. Melville expands and elaborates this theme throughout his epic work. The sermon is an omen for the dynamic action of the novel, which is revealed in Captain Ahab's megalomaniacal pursuit of the white whale. No person, ship or force of nature can sway Captain Ahab from his selfish ambition. He is willing to risk his crew, career, and even
Contained in the text of Moby Dick, Herman Melville uses many widely cultural symbols, stories and actions to tell the tale of a whaling ship bent on the desires of its captains abhorrence for a real, and also symbolic, creature in the form of an albino sperm whale named Moby
Primitive Beginnings in Herman Melville's Moby Dick Among the numerous themes and ideas that author Herman Melville expresses in Moby Dick, one of the less examined is the superiority of the primitive man to the modern man. As an undertone running through the entire book, one can see in Moby Dick the same admiration of the "noble savage" that is so prevalent in Melville's earlier tales of the simple and idyllic life of the cannibals, even though the focus has been shifted to the dangers of seeing things from only one point of view and to the struggle between good and evil.
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, is often considered to be one of the greatest pieces of written work in American literature. Written in 1851 this influential novel acts as a split in a road with infinite possibilities for the reader to interpret it. Throughout the story Melville reveals multiple themes to the reader, the most prevalent I find to be man’s limitless search for knowledge and control. Melville uses the literary device symbolism, to communicate the theme of mans limitless search for knowledge and control to the reader in Moby dick, through Ahab the captains unhealthy obsession with the “Great white Whale”, and Queequegs Coffin.
The novel is named after Moby Dick because he is the center of Ahab's obsession and a key object in his own right. The White Whale's appearance is unique. He is a very large sperm whale with a snow-white head, wrinkled brow, crooked jaw, and an especially bushy spout. His hump is also white and shaped like a pyramid; the rest of his body is covered with white. He has three holes in the right of his tail, and he fantails oddly before he submerges.
Herman Melville uses sea creatures and nature elements to demonstrate the transcendental view of God. Melville uses the concepts of color to illustrate white as the unknown fate, and as the whale’s tie to God. Melville shows the squid as a creature more terrifying than Moby Dick to represent the character Ahab’s madness and his fate. Melville describes the sharks as ferocious to illustrate them as an uncaring and vengeful God. Herman Melville uses the different qualities of the sea creatures to posit the ideas of fate, the unknown, and the power of
Ahab’s actions and personality convey Melville’s theme of duality in human nature because of both the madness and the innocence portrayed in his character. As a sea captain, Ahab comes off as crazy and psychotic, and he is frequently described as monomaniacal. When he says “Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I’d strike the sun if it insulted me” (203), Melville uses Ahab as an example for all humans and their innate evilness, for they are vindictive, vengeful, and easily combative. Though humans are shown as unforgiving, Melville also uses Ahab as a way to show the good side of people. At the peak of his monomania, Ahab has an epiphany where he understands the feelings of those he loves, and his moment of regret shows his true innocence as a person. “Aye, I widowed that poor girl when I married her, Starbuck; and then, the madness, the frenzy, the boiling blood and the smoking brow, with which, for a thousand lowerings old Ahab has furiously, foamingly chased his prey-more a demon than a man?-aye, aye! what a forty years’ fool-fool-old fool, has old Ahab been”(621)! Melville uses this moment as a way to show not just the innate goodness of man, but also the innate evil of nature and God. Ahab was a pure man before being corrupted by Moby Dick, the whale who he believed was the “pasteboard mask” (203) of God, and this concept of humans being innately good but corrupted by outside forces reveals Melville’s views on duality in human nature. Melville uses Ahab to manifest the duality of all
Pip’s Role in A Moby Dick In the novel, A Moby Dick, Pip is a young African American boy, who has almost no power on the Pequod. Pip only makes a handful of appearances in the novel, which leads the reader to ask: why does Melville include him in this novel?