Essay about Herman Melville's Moby-Dick

Essay about Herman Melville's Moby-Dick

Length: 1914 words (5.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

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).
These influences lead to the novel Melville completed and published in 1851. Although
shunned by critics after its release, Moby-Dick enjoyed a critical renaissance in the 1920s and as assumed its rightful place in the canons of American and world literature as a great classic. Through the symbols employed by Melville, Moby-Dick studies man’s
relationship with his universe, his fate, and his God. Ahab represents the league humans
make with evil when they question the fate God has willed upon them, and God is
represented by the great white whale, Moby Dick. In Moby-Dick, Herman Melville uses
a vast array of symbols and allegories in the search for the true explanation of man’s
place in the universe and his relationship with his fate and his God.

     The focus of cruel fate and evil symbols is placed on the head of Ahab, captain of
the Pequod. Ishmael, though narrator of the story, is not the center of Moby-Dick after
Captain Ahab is introduced onto the deck of the ship and into action. The focus of the
novel shifts from the freshman whaler to experienced Ahab, an “ungodly, god-like man”
(Melville 82). Having been a whaler for many years, he is a well respected captain, yet
his previous voyage has left him without a limb, and in its place is a peg leg carved from
whale ivory. Ahab remains below decks shadowed in obscurity for the initial stages of
the Pequod’s journey into the Atlantic. Ahab soon reveals his devilish plan to his crew,
however, in a frenzied attack of oratory — he wishes to seek, hunt, and destroy the White
Whale, the fabled Moby Dick. It was the white whale Moby Dick which had, on Ahab’s
prior voyage, ravenously devoured his leg, and Ahab harbored a resentful revenge on his
persecutor. Any mention of Moby Dick sent Ahab into a furious rage (Melville 155). He
riles against Starbuck, the ...


... middle of paper ...


...
     New York: Chelsea, 1986.

Braswell, William. “Moby-Dick Is an Allegory of Humanity’s Struggle with God.”
     Leone. 149.

Buell, Lawrence. “Moby-Dick as Sacred Text.” Bloom. 62.

Chase, Richard, ed. Melville: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
     Prentice, 1965.

Chase, Richard. “Melville and Moby-Dick.” Chase. 49.

Gilmore, Michael T., ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Moby-Dick. Englewood
     Cliffs, NJ: Prentice, 1977.

Guiley, Rosemary. Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience. New
     York: Castle, 1991.

Hillway, Tyrus. Herman Melville. New York: Twayne, 1963.

House, Paul R. Old Testament Survey. Nashville: Broadman, 1992.

Kazin, Alfred. “’Introduction’ to Moby-Dick.” Chase. 39.

Leone, Bruno, ed. Readings on Herman Melville. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1997.

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick, or The Whale. 1851. New York: Bantam, 1981.

Murray, Henry A. “’In Nomine Diaboli’: Moby-Dick.” Bloom. 39.

Parker, Hershel, and Harrison Hayford, eds. Moby-Dick as Dubloon. New York: Norton,
     1970.

Spiller, Robert, et al. Literary History of the United States of America. New York: Scott,
     1968.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Essay on Analysis Of ' Moby Dick ' By Herman Melville

- "Moby Dick" is a novel written by Herman Melville that was published in 1851, and has since become known as a brilliant work of American literature. The story has characters that are complex and thought-provoking, a few of the interesting characters are: Fedallah, Pip and Ahab. The story revolves around Ahab and his desire to kill Moby Dick, but Fedallah and Pip are significant as well. Both, Fedallah and Pip may be seen as two representations of Ahab 's character. In order to fully grasp how Fedallah and Pip relate to Ahab, an analysis of both characters would be helpful....   [tags: Moby-Dick, Herman Melville, Boy, Pequod]

Powerful Essays
777 words (2.2 pages)

Essay about Herman Melville 's Moby Dick

- At the conclusion of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and after three days of chasing the whale, the flag atop the Pequod’s main mast had become weathered and torn. Ahab instructs Tashtego to mount a new flag on the main mast and the Indian from Gay Head Massachusetts promptly complies. Tashtego’s compliance to his captain’s order is so diligent that even after the whale has struck the mortal blow against the ship, Tashetego continues to hammer in the flag as he and the mast sink into the sea (Melville 531, 535)....   [tags: Moby-Dick, Herman Melville, Allegory]

Powerful Essays
946 words (2.7 pages)

Essay about Herman Melville's Moby-Dick

- 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]

Powerful Essays
1914 words (5.5 pages)

Moby Dick, By Herman Melville Essay

- 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]

Powerful Essays
1015 words (2.9 pages)

Moby Dick, By Herman Melville Essay

- 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....   [tags: Moby-Dick, Sperm whale, Whale, Cetacea]

Powerful Essays
1114 words (3.2 pages)

Essay about Moby Dick, By Herman Melville

- 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....   [tags: Moby-Dick, Sperm whale, Cetacea, Mammal]

Powerful Essays
708 words (2 pages)

Essay on Moby Dick by Herman Melville

- Where do you get your coffee. There are so many different coffee places around town to choose from. Of course the most well know coffee shops in New England are Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. It’s even hard for the little local coffee shops to compete with those big-named companies. I chose to evaluate Starbucks because I wanted to find out if it really worth spending the extra dollar or two on a cup of coffee. In 1971 the first Starbucks coffee shop was built in Seattle. The owner picked the name from the book Moby Dick by Herman Melville....   [tags: Firm Analysis, Community Service]

Powerful Essays
1232 words (3.5 pages)

Herman Melville's Moby Dick Essay

- Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" In Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, a recurring theme of death is seen throughout the book. A coffin appears at the beginning of the book and at the end of the book, Ishmael sees a large oil painting that foreshadows and represents many things and events that follow in the book, and Fedallah makes a prophecy talking about hearses and predicts Ahab’s death. Ishmael stays at The Sprouter-Inn, whose proprietor was a man named Peter Coffin. In the end, Ishmael clings to a coffin for over a day until rescued by another boat....   [tags: Moby Dick Melville Death Essays]

Powerful Essays
679 words (1.9 pages)

Essay on An Analysis of Herman Melville and Moby Dick

- An Analysis of Herman Melville and Moby Dick        "Moby Dick is biographic of Melville in the sense that it discloses every nook and cranny of his imagination." (Humford 41) This paper is a psychological study of Moby Dick.  Moby Dick was written out of Melville's personal experiences.         Moby Dick is a story of the adventures a person named Ishmael.  Ishmael is a lonely, alienated individual who wants to see the "watery part of the world."  Moby Dick begins with the main character, Ishmael, introducing himself with the line "Call Me Ishmael." (Melville 1)  Ishmael tells the reader about his background and creates a depressed mood for the reader....   [tags: Moby Dick Essays]

Free Essays
2248 words (6.4 pages)

Essay on Moby Dick by Herman Melville

- In the novel Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, a microcosm lives in the Pequod. Throughout the story, the microcosm is apparent in the control and superiority of Captain Ahab, friendship, religion, and the struggles of good and evil. The Pequod symbolizes the views, actions, thoughts, and the various types of people in the world. Ahab’s power and authority show that he is the leader in this small world. He conjures allegiance and fear out of the crew. Dagoo, Tashtego, and Queequeg are the minorities on the ship(for obvious reasons) and represent the minorities of the world....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
658 words (1.9 pages)