Reality And Moral Truth In Herman Melville's Benito Cereno

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The fictionality in Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno draws the reader's attention to the difference between fictional and moral truth, or the truth as it happened versus the truth as it is interpreted. Fictionality is when the line between fact and fiction is purposely blurred by the author in order to illuminate a truth for the reader; it is when the author alters reality to create a more fitting stage for the story. The truth that is revealed through the fictionality tends to be a moral truth, such as a life lesson or universal certitude. Throughout this short story, the submerged message of abolitionist thought is hidden beneath layers of lies, speculations, and altered facts. The story is based on true events, and it is this idea of a hidden truth underneath the constructed reality that echoes throughout the work. By changing the year the events take place, the author subtly alters the context of the story, but the underlying truth remains constant. It is with these clues and fictionality that Melville explains the difference between factual truth and the deeper truth that transcends moments, events, or even people. This inner truth is told underneath the story itself, which emphasizes the perception of the participants. The difference between perception and truth is that one changes with the facts, and the other does not. There is a truth in something like a novel, a moral truth, that exceeds a purely realistic story from life. The fictionality that Melville uses to

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