The Surprising Moby Dick

opinion Essay
1129 words
1129 words

The Surprising Moby Dick

Moby Dick was not the novel I expected. I was under the impression

that it would be about seafaring and the whale Moby Dick. Instead, Moby

Dick is a story about Captain Ahab's obsession. There is very little in

the story about the revenge itself, just about Ahab's monomania. Out of

465 pages, only forty-two of them deal with the actual battle between Ahab

and Moby Dick.

The novel places very little emphasis on actual seafaring.

Ishmael never even steps on a boat until page seventy-four. Even when the

ship finally leaves port, the mention of anything involving sailing or the

life of sailors is kept to an absolute minimum.

There is, however, plenty of emphasis is on whaling, the anatomy of

whales, and their behavior. The book goes into great detail describing the

whalers of Nantucket, and gives in-depth explanations of the different

types of whales, quoting several outside sources in the process. The

narrator mentions the awesome size of the sperm whale, and how few books

even try to describe it. He also shows great respect for people who go

whaling, and describes the camaraderie that forms between them. This is an

annoying inconsistency in the novel, since Ishmael (the narrator) tells the

reader that he has never been on a whaling ship before, and has never seen

a live whale.

The first twenty-three chapters focus on Ishmael's thoughts and

actions. He introduces the reader to whaling and describes the Pequod.

After the ship sets sail, he seems to vanish from the story. At certain

intervals, however, he plays minor roles, and it is Ishmael that survives

to tell the story.

From chapter twenty-four onward, the novel is almost completely

about Ahab hunting for Moby Dick. He has the blacksmith construct a

special harpoon, made from the finest iron, and soaked in the blood of the

three harpooners. The forging of the harpoon is somewhat ironic, since the

rope attached to that same harpoon is what drags Ahab to the bottom of the


Despite Ahab's apparent madness, he still seemed able to reason

clearly. He carefully and methodically located the region of the sea that

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the reader has never been on a whaling ship before, and never seen one before.
  • Explains that rope attached to that same harpoon is what drags ahab to the bottom of the boat.
  • Opines that his men will abandon him if they do not make some sort of profit.
  • Opines that ahab is definitely the hero of moby dick, but he is a tragic hiso.
  • Opines that after the loss of his captain, he became one of the finest captains ever.
  • Opines that moby dick is the embodiment of all that is evil.
  • Analyzes the anger in ahab, who thinks moby dick is a monster, but it is really
  • Opines that they were almost happy to see the whale turn on.
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