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.
Ahab was destroyed by his siren, which was an elusive whale named Moby Dick. Blanchot points out, "Ahab and the whale are engaged in a drama, what we can call a metaphysical drama, using the word loosely, and the Sirens and Ulysses are engaged in the same struggle...The result is a sort of victory for him, a dark disaster for Ahab" (Blanchot 44). Ahab obviously could not resist his siren, and it spelled the end for him. Odysseus realized the danger and took measures to protect his crew from the irresistible urge that would pull them to their doom.
A Voyage Long And Strange: On the Trail of Vikings, Conquistadors, Lost Colonists, and Other Adventurers in Early 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 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.
Quote: In chapter 128, the Pequod is hailed by another whaling ship, the Rachel. This ship had met Moby Dick, and lost two of its crew from the ensuing attack. One of witch was the captain’s son, this captain was devastated and determined to find him. However when Ahab refuses to assist the captain, Melville describes how the Rachel sailed away; “But by her still halting course and winding, woeful way, you plainly saw that this ship that so wept with spray, still remained without comfort. She was Rachel, weeping for her children, because they were
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.
This is not the first time Ahab has spoken to himself as he often paranoidly talked to himself about what he would do if others tried to hurt him, then proceed to tell himself how crazy he is. These are Ahab’s last words. It’s funny how these are not only his last words, but the first time Ahab said anything with true feeling in the book. Though he may have not killed Moby Dick like he truly wanted, Ahab found the whale again and threw in a few last punches while cursing it and fate before his demise. I feel that, though Ahab did not kill Moby Dick, he was ready to die because he had closure since he found the whale again and was able to throw one final spear and give it his all. Following his death there was silence because the only
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
The prophets in the parables are usually those who are the most pious towards God, or most deserving of redemption. On board the Pequod, there exist many other men, such as Queequeg and Starbuck, who could potentially be thought of as more worthy of becoming these prophets because of their increased importance. However, Ishmael has one main difference that grants him salvation that all of the rest of the Pequod do not: Ishmael’s motives for whaling. As Ishmael states, “Having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.” He continues by saying “Whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul... I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.” These two quotations demonstrate Ishmael’s motives for whaling. He turns to whaling not for monetary gain, or to kill whales, but rather to explore the ocean, and also to find new purpose in his life. These motives for whaling are in sharp contrast to
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.
When Ahab begins to speak with the crew, negativity to his plan is expressed through the character Starbuck as he vocalizes that he is not looking for any danger, just an opportunity to get paid through the normal routine and calling Ahab’s quest for vengeance “madness” and “blasphemous” (Melville 163-164). Starbuck does not have the same understanding of Moby Dick as Ahab, and has not the need for a sublime experience. However, the rest of the crew is mesmerized by the idea of Moby Dick, as they have all heard rumors of his greatness, including that Moby Dick is the reason why Ahab now uses a whale bone as his peg leg, a terrifying action of Moby Dick, but one that the crew universally desires an experience of. Ahab makes a terrifically persuading speech to the crew, in which he states, “But in each event– in the living act, the undoubted deed– there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask!” describing that if any action is ever worth doing, it is the action of pursuing and gaining greater understanding of that which you don’t understand (Melville 164). Ahab wants to inspire the crew to accept his quest for the whale, and uses their already
Even while Melville teases readers with hints of mental anguish to come, the first scene in which Ishmael and Ahab both appear is a remarkably agreeable one. As the Pequod sails into unseasonably spring-like weather, both men are caught up in the pleasantness. Ishmael describes the
Along with this we also see the fate behind his decisions, where many things go against him, illustrating that maybe catching this whale really isn’t the greatest of ideas. A really good example of this is when the Pequeod finally reaches the equator and they appear to be close to where Ahab believes the whale may be, however when they get there they encounter two other ships who have been hit really badly by the whale. When all fate and destine is clearly illustrating that Ahab’s best bet is to not fight this battle, his free-will and determination push him forward, and he doesn’t allow this to scare him. Ahab even eventually goes as far as saying, “The gallows, ye mean.- I am immortal then, on land and on sea," cried Ahab, with a laugh of derision;- "Immortal on land and on sea!” (Melville 513). This demonstrates just how free-will driven Ahab really is, and he believes his destiny lies at sea, stating that his destiny is that he is immortal. Even when going beyond the text and further researching this concept of free will in Ahab’s character, we find that most other scholastic articles can agree with Ahab’s drive. When reading “Moby-dick Again” by Richard Lowry, he states in text, “When he catches up to Moby Dick, the climactic three-day chase ensues, with repeated opportunities to turn back as the danger
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.