Essay about The Whiteness of the Whale

878 Words4 Pages
The Great White Whale and its Many Meanings Herman Melville, in his epic novel Moby-Dick, utilizes the symbolism of the color of the Great White Whale to demonstrate his theme of duality. However, Captain Ahab tragically had a single mind set towards Moby Dick, as he believed that the whale was the symbol of the world's evil and had to be destroyed. On the other hand, Ishmael sees that the color white can mean many various and opposing things. It would be dangerous to settle upon any one single meaning. In the chapter, The Whiteness of the Whale, Melville explains the importance of duality of meaning in the world, as opposed to man's (and Ahab's) desire to see only one meaning in any one thing. Melville utilizes the symbol of the…show more content…
He believed that the color of white had many meanings to many persons. Ishmael realized that the color white can represent beauty. Whiteness refiningly enhances beauty, as if imparting some special virtue of its own, as in marbles, japonicas, and pearls. Another characteristic of the color white is strength, such as that of the polar bear or the great white shark. Ishmael also said the white can mean spirited leadership, such as the great white steeds. Contributes to the daily state of kings and queens drawn by milk-white steeds; though even in the higher mysteries of the most august religions is has been made the symbol of the divine spotlessness an power. Unlike Ahab, Ishmael saw the duality in white as he also understood that white could also be awesome, even fearsome, as man gazes across the white wastes of the prairies covered with snow and ice, or the white foaming sea hurled upon the rocky coasts by a frightful storm. To view his ship sailing through a midnight sea of milky whiteness-as if from encircling headlands shoals of combed white bears. Due to Ishmaels's ability to view the whiteness of Moby Dick through many viewpoints it secured his survival on the inevitably disastrous voyage of the Pequod. Melville presents the various meanings of the color white. He shows the reader that no one thing means anything definitely. The meaning of any object comes from in the values the individual
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