Symbolism and Americanism within Melville's Moby Dick Essay
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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.
Distinctly American in style Melville writes as though "through a stream of his consciousness" # which primarily serves to offer Melville's own meditations upon America.…show more content…
He is no longer an American citizen surrounded by foreign sailors, but actually becomes part of the amalgamation of cultures himself.
At the end of the novel Ishmael is no longer the naïve man he once was, as he informs the reader, "a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard"#. The beliefs he possesses at the point of his rescue by "The Rachel" seem reminiscent of transcendentalism, an idea that was prominent in 1836 and one that inspired not only Melville himself but also Henry Thoreau.
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.
The novel itself is not simply a story offering insight into American society, but is also a tapestry of symbols and motifs, each representing an element of human society as a whole, or in some cases, a symbol that foreshadows the end fate of the Pequod and its "heathen crew."
The ship around which the story is set, "The Pequod", has perhaps some of the most fatalistic