Essay on The Feminine Sea in Moby Dick

Essay on The Feminine Sea in Moby Dick

Length: 3702 words (10.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Feminine Sea in Moby Dick

 

Melville's novel, Moby Dick, has only men. Melville's men's club sails a sea whose gender changes often and whose personality is resolutely enigmatic. The feminine in Melville¹s novel hides her face in a veil of stars and behind a cloud of words.

Literally, Moby Dick is a men's club, with only a glimpse of a woman in the background, or reflected in the stories of the sailors. They seem to have no sexuality, nor any personality. The two full blooded, dialogue speaking characters in the novel are both servants. Mrs. Hussey ladles out ³Clam or Cod³ to Queequeg and Ishmael, bans harpoons from her house, and busies herself like some cosmic washerwoman. In the novel, she is a laughably comic figure brought out for a few laughs, and then forgotten.

Bildad's sister, Charity fares far worse. While Bildad and Peleg battle and thunder in their wigwam on the deck of the Pequod, she outfits the boat, so "nothing could be found wanting."(All Astir, p. 137) For all this work that she seems to be doing single handedly, Melville claims that "no woman better deserved the name," but that doesn't stop him from poking fun at her:

"And like a sister of charity did this charitable Aunt Charity bustle about hither and thither, ready to turn her hand and heart to anything that promised to yield for safety, comfort, and consolation to all on board a ship on which her beloved brother Bildad was concerned"(All Astir, 137-8)

The sentence runs with repetition and alliteration, lightening the tone and making all of her work seem trivial and pointless. What is the point of a cushion or a sleeping cap in a three year ocean voyage? What difference does it make? If we have not gotten the point of the allit...


... middle of paper ...


... and conflicts in the book and leaves the ending in question. Following this logic, Ahab could never kill Moby Dick as Moby could never kill Ahab. Like matter and anti-matter, they would merely cancel each other out.

In this novel, it's hard to see Ahab surviving and the whale not. It's hard to see that because the feminine side of nature is so overpowering and overwhelming. Almost everything that is larger than man is female and all of it is indifferent to him. Indeed, the part of Moby Dick that is male is probably the part that wants to hunt Ahab so much. The rest of his power is that over-arching feminine power of the ocean, the sun, nature, and even the soul. The men's club doesn¹t stand a chance. In the end, Ahab must take whatever she decides to give them.

Works Cited

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick . Ed. H. Hayford and H. Parker. New York: Norton, 1967.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Transformation and Mixture in Moby-Dick Essays

- 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]

Free Essays
1331 words (3.8 pages)

Slow Suicide in Melville´s Moby Dick Essay

- As man is bound to his subjective perception, inhibited from comprehending the essence of things, he is forced to apply personal, extraneous meaning to them or find himself devoid of it altogether. Loftiness of such application is the nature of romanticism, and such is the nature of Melville’s Moby Dick. The sea becomes vogue, limbo for the reticent felo-de-se; the untraversed, the nebulous, even the numinous. The Pequod assumes the role of a nation of men—30 men for 30 states is explicit enough—doomed by the mad will of him in power....   [tags: sea, whiteness, moby dick, natural]

Powerful Essays
1433 words (4.1 pages)

The Old Man And The Sea and Moby Dick Essay

- 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]

Powerful Essays
1367 words (3.9 pages)

The Innumerable Meanings of Moby Dick Essay

- The Innumerable Meanings of Moby Dick 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)....   [tags: Moby Dick Essays]

Powerful Essays
830 words (2.4 pages)

Essay about The Quest for Meaning in Moby Dick

- 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]

Powerful Essays
2644 words (7.6 pages)

Essay on The Duality of Man in Moby Dick

- 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]

Powerful Essays
1296 words (3.7 pages)

Essay about Metamorphosis of Ishmael in Moby Dick

- 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]

Powerful Essays
993 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on Metaphysical Ideologies in Moby Dick

- Metaphysical Ideologies in Moby Dick At first glance, Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick, appears to be the story of a man, his captain, and the whale that they quest to destroy.  But a closer look reveals the author’s intense look at several metaphysical ideologies.  He explores some of the most ponderous quandaries of his time, among these being the existence of evil, knowledge of the self and the existential, and the possibility of a determined fate.  All of these were questions which philosophers had dealt with and written about, but Melville took it to a new level: not only writing about these things, but also doing so in a lovely poetic language backed by a tale packed with intrigue...   [tags: Moby Dick Essays]

Powerful Essays
1395 words (4 pages)

Essay on The Surprising Moby Dick

- 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....   [tags: Moby Dick Essays]

Free Essays
1129 words (3.2 pages)

Essay Religion and Moby Dick

- Religion and Moby Dick        Job was a man of the purest faith. When the world shunned God, Job's faith never declined. Job was a wealthy, handsome man with a beautiful wife and a vast amount of property. At some point in time, Satan made a bet with God that if Job situation was changed, his faith would quickly falter. On this note, God took Job's wealth, his property, his family, and his wife. When times were at their worst, God gave Job pus welts on Job's face, taking his looks. Job's faith, however, did not falter, instead it becamestronger....   [tags: Moby Dick Essays]

Free Essays
3608 words (10.3 pages)