Call me Ishmael. The first line of this story begins with an assertion of self-identity. Before the second page is reached, it becomes quite clear to me that within this assertion of self-identity lay an enticing universality. Ishmael represents every man somehow and no man entirely. He is an individual in his own right, while personifying a basic human desire for something more, something extraordinary. As his name implies, "he is an outcast from a great family" (p.18). Although we all share Ishmael's yearning for adventure (however deeply hidden it may be), to throw aside our civilization (despite its discontents ) could mean societal suicide. So, we look through his eyes, we cling to his desire, we dream of his escape.
This world of ours in all its absurdity is seemingly as vast as an ocean beyond its horizon. Yet with all its opportunity, with all its splendor, we somehow manage to spoil the prospects it so generously offers. We pack ourselves into overcrowded spaces; we cram our brains with bits and pieces of irrelevancy; we herd ourselves along a well-beaten path; we cloud our souls with a veil of conformity. And yet there still remains, somewhere deep inside every one of us, the desire to cast aside restraint and venture into whatever indulgence tugs at our heartstrings and innermost fantasy.
For Ishmael this was the sea: "Whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses...then I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can" (p. 18). For Ishmael to remain on shore would mean to "grow hazy about the eyes" and lose sight of what makes him happy, the drive that makes him human- his love of the sea. ...
... middle of paper ...
...story of stories . However, its greatness does not lay in the particular formulation of particular words in particular sentences into particular paragraphs and so forth. As with any great story, Moby Dick is comprised of infinite, multifaceted, and often allusive levels of meaning. What makes a novel great is its interaction with its readers. The degree to which a story remains unguarded and flexible while simultaneously enticing and provoking its readers, is what makes it great.
The meanings I find hidden within the text of Moby Dick are unlike any others. Yet, they are mine and mine alone. As in Moby Dick, the innumerable meanings that lie dormant within stories are like ungraspable phantoms. With Moby Dick representing an epitome, the beckoning ungraspable phantoms concealed in stories, are the key to their command.
Melville, H. Moby Dick.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Moby Dick, by Herman Melville was published in 1851; the novel is about the narrator, Ishmael and his experience on the whaling ship named The Pequod. Ishmael 's development as a hero can be aligned with Joseph Campbell 's Hero 's Journey. There are twelve stages, each will be discussed in terms of how it relates to Ishmael in the American novel Moby Dick. The twelve stages are as follows: ordinary World, call to adventure, refusal of the call, meeting the mentor, crossing the threshold, tests, allies and enemies, approach to the inmost cave, ordeal, reward, the road back, resurrection, and return with the elixir.... [tags: Moby-Dick, Queequeg, Whaling, Pequod]
1015 words (2.9 pages)
- The Quest for Meaning in Moby Dick "To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it" states the narrating character Ishmael as he attempts to justify his reasoning on writing such a lengthy novel. Indeed, the whale may be the most complex and grandiose mammal on earth, yet one may still question the ulterior motive of Melville for explicating every detail of a whaling journey in Moby Dick.... [tags: Moby Dick Essays]
2644 words (7.6 pages)
- Ahab as the Hero of Moby Dick One might think it a difficult task to find a tragic hero hidden in the pages of Moby Dick. Yet, there is certainly potential for viewing Ahab as heroic despite unfavorable responses to him by the reader. In the original formula coming from the Greeks, the tragic hero had to be a high-born individual of elevated status possessed of a fatal flaw which resulted in their downfall. With Othello Shakespeare redefined elevated status to include position alone rather than being linked to societal or birth status.... [tags: Moby Dick Essays]
1179 words (3.4 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... [tags: Moby Dick Essays]
1296 words (3.7 pages)
- Metamorphosis of Ishmael in Moby Dick In Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Ishmael undergoes drastic changes in his personality and in the way he views life. Ishmael learns to accept people who are different and learns how to get along with people he never would of on land because of the way they look. On land, the world's affairs are important but by taking a voyage on the Pequod, Ishmael learns to block out the importance of these affairs and free himself from the restraints put on him by society on land.... [tags: Moby Dick Essays]
993 words (2.8 pages)
- Classroom discussions of Moby-Dick often result in a heightened awareness of Melville’s depictions of duality in nature; for example, the contrasting sky and sea respectively represent heaven and hell and the foul-smelling whale in Chapter 92 produces a fragrant and valuable substance called ambergris. But interpreting Melville’s Moby-Dick only as an exercise in duality limits the scope of this complex novel. Melville’s contemporary, Margaret Fuller, also seems aware of the confining notion of duality and states in Woman in the Nineteenth Century: Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism.... [tags: Moby Dick Melville]
1331 words (3.8 pages)
- Homosexuality in Melville's, Moby Dick Herman Melville's Moby-Dick is fraught with sexual imagery. The elaborate descriptions with which the author establishes his indulgent style of writing aptly reflect the often indulgent behaviors of the characters. Melville's choice of words is loaded with sensuality. This is most noticeable in the relationship between Ishmael and Queequeg. The evolution of their relationship throughout the text associates homosexuality with negative consequences. As the book progresses their interactions become increasingly more erotic.... [tags: Moby Dick Essays]
1213 words (3.5 pages)
- The Unwitting Vehicle for Evil in Moby Dick My opinion about symbolism in the book Moby Dick is a patchwork of the "Evil Captain" theory and the "Nothingness" theory. In this theory chance and circumstance cause an unlucky (as opposed to ill-fated) captain to become the unwitting vehicle for evil. It is not his fault, he is driven to it by simple bad luck, and so evil is created out of nothingness, and then disappears from whence it came. The whale represents nothing, Starbuck represents nothing, Pip only serves to represent the madness that would have overtaken Ahab had he not invented an evil whale to blame his leg on, and most importantly Ishmael represents God, or the truth, or... [tags: Moby Dick Essays]
1327 words (3.8 pages)
- The Old Man And The Sea and Moby Dick One might say we are presented with two fish stories in looking at Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, a marlin in the former and a whale in the latter. However, both of these animals are symbolic of the struggle their hunters face to find dignity and meaning in the face of a nihilistic universe in Hemingway and a fatalistic one in Melville. While both men will be unable to conquer the forces of the universe against them, neither will either man be conquered by them because of their refusal to yield to these insurmountable forces. However, Santiago gains a measure of peace and understanding about existe... [tags: Moby Dick Essays]
1367 words (3.9 pages)
- Herman Melville's Moby-Dick Herman Melville began working on his epic novel Moby-Dick in 1850, writing it primarily as a report on the whaling voyages he undertook in the 1830s and early 1840s. Many critics suppose that his initial book did not contain characters such as Ahab, Starbuck, or even Moby Dick, but the summer of 1850 changed Melville’s writing and his masterpiece. He became friends with author Nathaniel Hawthorne and was greatly influenced by him. He also read Shakespeare and Milton’s Paradise Lost (Murray 41).... [tags: Herman Melville Moby Dick Essays]
1914 words (5.5 pages)