The Duality of Man in Moby Dick Essay
1289 Words6 Pages
The Duality of Man in Moby Dick
In Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick, every character is a symbol of the good and evil sides of humanity. However, none of the characters represent pure evil or pure goodness. Even Melville’s description of Ahab, whom he repeatedly refers to monomaniacal, which suggests he is driven insane by one goal, is given a chance to be seen as a frail, sympathetic character.
Ishmael represents the character with the most good out of the crew, though his survival is unclear because he never had a direct adversary to overcome.
He has his moments when evil thoughts pervade his mind. The unclearness of morals in the universe is prevalent throughout Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
The outcome…show more content…
Melville’s inclusion of Ishmael’s survival suggests that Ishmael’s survival is an afterthought to the fate of Ahab and the rest of his crew. Ishmael’s quiet words at the beginning of the chapter,
"Why then here does any one step forth?... Because one did survive the wreck," (521 Melville) indicate a deep humility on Ishmael’s part. He sees his victory in life as an empty one.
The question is then raised of why Ishmael is the sole survivor. It is clear that Ishmael significantly differs with Ahab concerning their respective perspectives of the White Whale. Ishmael clearly indicates how disagreeable he finds the mission and mental state of those around him: "…the rushing Pequod, freighted with savages, and laden with fire, and burning a corpse, and plunging into that blackness of darkness, seemed the material counterpart of her monomaniac commander’s soul." (391 Melville) Here, Ishmael breaks his usual detached observancy and boldly distinguishes himself from
Ahab’s mission and those whom Ahab has recruited to aid him.
Ishmael further distinguishes himself from the rest of the crew by being the sole non-exploiter of whales in general. Melville makes it clear early on that Ishmael initially chooses to ship on the Pequod for the experience value of whaling. Whereas Ishmael is terrified by the white
Captain Ahab and Moby Dick Essay
1234 Words5 Pages
Captain Ahab and Moby Dick:
Literary critics point to a variety of themes and juxtapositions when analyzing Herman Melville's “Moby Dick”. Some see the land opposed to the sea or Fate opposed to free will. Most mention man versus nature or good versus evil. A perspective that seems overlooked though is the perspective of the self and the other. The self and other is when one discovers the other (something not us) within oneself, when one realizes that one is not a single being alien to anything that is not them. There are many such relationships throughout the book, such as that of Ishmael and Queequeg and Ahab and Starbuck. However, this paper will focus on the essential relationship, which is of Ahab and Moby-Dick.
By recognizing the…show more content…
In essence, Ahab makes Moby-Dick what he is.
In chapter 99 “The Doubloon” Melville again shows Ahab’s madness. Since Ahab hasn’t yet been able to destroy the whale, he offers any member of the crew who can destroy the whale an expensive coin. In the following chapter, Ahab is confronted with Enderby someone who seems to symbolize rationality. However, Ahab refuses to listen. Here Melville again shows that Ahab is totally consumed with destroying the whale, and that Moby-Dick is also a merciless creature, since Enderby lost one of his arms to him. However, Enderby does not feel the same fury that Ahab does, which is why I said he seems to symbolize rationality and this rationality mirrors Ahab’s obsession. Enderby has comes to terms with Moby-Dick and his experience with him. He did not fill in the blanks, as Ahab has done. If Enderby could get over it Ahab could too, but he doesn’t, this foreshadows destruction and it also brings light to the extent of Ahab’s madness.
Moby-Dick might symbolize evil and if so Ahab's obsession to kill Moby-Dick is evil as well in my opinion. This goes back to what I said in the beginning, that it seems evident that the other exists within the self. The evil that Moby-Dick appears to have is the evil within Captain Ahab. Ahab cast his own feelings and instincts onto Moby-Dick, because Ahab can not accept himself as he is.
The disgrace of Moby-Dick was created, to some degree, by Captain