Essay on Moby Dick: Symbols To Draw Attention

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Often in great works of literature, symbols are incorporated to add depth. These symbols make it more interesting to the reader by making connections from one idea to another. Herman Melville depicts a great number of characters and symbols in his 19th century novel Moby Dick. Melville uses symbols to develop plot, characters, and to give the reader a deeper interpretation of the novel. (Tucker) The author successfully uses the symbols of brotherhood, monomania, isolation, religion, and duality to make his book more interesting to its readers.

At the beginning of the novel, the characters Ishmael and Queequeg are introduced. Ishmael is the narrator of the story. He is also a merchant seaman who signs up for a whaling voyage to see the
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Ahab depended on the carpenter to make him a new leg, therefore partly bonding and making a friendship.

Ahab’s monomania grows increasingly as the story moves forward. While on the ship, Ahab addresses his crewmembers with a doubloon, which symbolizes the act of drawing everyone into the vortex of monomania by Ahab. He uses this coin to focus everyone’s attentions and goals into finding Moby Dick.

However, the coin incident is not the only symbol that Melville uses to display Captain Ahab’s monomania. As they are sailing, the Pequod passes various ships along their journey. Upon meeting with these ships, Ahab asks them if they’ve seen a white whale, and refuses to help them because he is afraid that it will interfere and delay the process of capturing Moby Dick.

Because of Ahab’s monomania, in the beginning of the novel Ahab isolates himself from the rest of the crewmembers until they are out on the sea. During the early stages of this novel, Ahab avoids bonding with anyone else, which can be found when at the dinner table. All the mates are silent, and they must leave in the reverse order from which they came, with the third mate having to leave first; the harpooners eat last. It is because of this order that demonstrates how Ahab tries to isolate him and his crewmembers. “… In the cabin was no companionship; socially, Ahab was inaccessible. Though nominally included in the census of Christendom, he

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