Moby Dick, By Herman Melville Essay

Moby Dick, By Herman Melville Essay

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In Herman Melville’s world-renowned tale, Moby Dick, the crew aboard the Pequod sail the seas in order to hunt, capture, and kill a mysteriously terrifying sperm whale named “Moby Dick”. For centuries, humans have used technological advances to protect their elite status in the animal kingdom, at the unfortunate expense of species ignorantly perceived as being too weak or unintelligent to fight back. Moby Dick illuminates one of the most historically cruel instances of selfishly-oriented, industrial engineering: whaling and hunting animals for sport. Humans and animals are the only living creatures with a similar state of consciousness and this cognitive interconnectedness binds the two species together in ways that can only be speculated and explored--yet perhaps--never quite understood. Therefore, when humans impede upon animals and their habitats, they are choosing to disregard this inherent unity, and essentially, undermine animal strength and intelligence. This is not to say that humans have not been successful in ultimately destroying animal life--for otherwise, no contemporary species would be extinct--but what humans have failed to do is conceptualize the insecurity and ironic weakness they possess by needing to divide and conquer instead of coexist. That being said, Moby Dick stands out from other works of nineteenth-century literature by acknowledging the power and resilience that animals do indeed bear, despite being the continual victims of man’s hunger for dominance. The tale of Moby Dick focuses on sperm whales and the violent, inhumane treatment towards them solely for the purpose of profit, as well as the various ways in which the sea animal is nevertheless feared and respected. The characters in Moby Dick consider...


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...Ahab recognizes that, “[thou] has slept by many a sailor’s side, where sleepless mothers would give their lives to lay them down. Thou saw’st the locked lovers when leaping from their flaming ship...thou saw’st the murdered mate when tossed by pirates from the midnight deck,” which shows that the Captain is rather appreciative and slightly envious of the whale’s limitless powers of observation. Because the human body can only survive in certain conditions, it is impossible for people to witness the same things as creatures adapted for extreme environments, e.g. the ocean. There is power in this biological resilience which Captain Ahab perceives and describes in Chapter 70. In spite of mankind’s awful treatment of whales, they are recognized as being unlike any other animal; thus making their extraordinary traits proper cause for admiration, intimidation, and respect.

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