The Theme Of Duality In Herman Melville's Moby Dick

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Duality is a complex and ambiguous term that can be used in reference to a number of things in overall life. When something contrasts itself in multiple ways, duality is revealed, and this idea of one thing having both positives and negatives is a recurring theme shown in various everyday actions. Herman Melville’s quote of “Nothing exists in itself” (83) is the primary explanation of duality’s principles, and he expresses this idea in many different ways in his writings. In Moby Dick, Herman Melville reveals a theme of duality in the world through man in Ahab’s monomania but honest care for his family, through the good and the evil in nature, and through the pureness and hostility in God and His portrayal as the white whale. 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

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