Moby Dick - Characters of Captain Ahab and Ishmael

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The characters of captain Ahab and Ishmael are almost opposites. About the only things the two share in common are that they are both seamen and they both are on a hunt for a whale. Ishmael is a pleasing character, who plays the role of the main character as well as narrator. He is a common man who has a love for the sea, and goes to it to clear his mind whenever he feels down or feels that it is “a damp, drizzly November” in his soul. As for his physical appearance, he doesn’t really specify. However, one might assume that he is a middle-aged man and probably holds the characteristics of the “stereotypical seaman”. But, what the character lacks in physical description, he makes up for with a full personality that his described extensively throughout the book. Ishmael is a man who seeks what is best described as “inner peace”. He is very content with himself when on the water, and has a great love for being a seaman. He joins the crew of the Pequod to satisfy his longing to be back on the ocean, but as it turns out, the particular voyage he is to set out on is not what he had suspected. For this ship would be commanded by a half-crazed captain in a desperate search for a viscous white whale. Over all, Ishmael is definitely the most civilized and wise man in the story. Captain Ahab is an overwhelmingly intimidating character in the story, and can probably be considered the most deranged of them all. His radical obsession with finding and killing the white whale known as “Moby-Dick” causes Ishmael and others of the crew to become frightened at his abnormal behavior. Ahab’s physical appearance is best described as foreboding and evil. He is a tall man with gray hair, and is missing a leg due to a death-defying confrontation with Moby-Dick himself. His new artificial leg is made from the bone of whale and once again adds to his intimidating form. His personality is also quite mad. He has a maniacal presence about him and would risk his life and the lives of his crewmen just to fulfill his mission of demented revenge. Melville does a fine job describing this particular character with the utmost extremeness. The characters of Ishmael and Ahab are two that have a great and critical impact on the book.

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