Although Moby-Dick was initially a commercial flop, it has gained popularity since then and is now considered one of the most important novels of American literature. Indeed, the characters are bound by superstition and myth: the only reason that the Pequod kills a Right Whale is the legend that a ship will have good luck if it has the head of a Right Whale and the head of a Sperm Whale on its opposing sides. Ahab is a man of great depth but few words. This classic story by Herman Melville revolves around Captain Ahab and his obsession with a huge whale, Moby Dick. Father Mapple's Pulpit Father Mapple's pulpit in the Whaleman's Chapel effectively represents this former harpooner's approach to his ministry. It drives his quest for vengeance. Tenth Printing 1966, New York, London and Toronto: Oxford University Press.
Ishmael is a lush, intelligent narrator; he is observant and curious, and wanders into lengthy examinations of subjects that interest him, including , philosophical and religious questions, and examinations of the people around him. There was an infinity of firmest fortitude, a determinate, unsurrenderable willfulness, in the fixed and fearless, forward dedication of that glance. To Starbuck, Moby Dick is just another whale, except that he is more dangerous. He wants to kill the whale in order to reach that force. The whale is a physical part of Ahab in this instance; it is literally a part of Ahab.
Like his namesake, Captain Ahab worships pagan gods, particularly the spirit of fire. For Captain Ahab, it is intensely personal and he is willing to die in pursuit of his quest. Melville furthers this idea through the prophetic dream that tells Ahab that causes Ahab to conclude that he is immortal. Moby Dick attacks Ahab's boat, causing it to sink, but Ahab survives the ordeal when he reaches Stubb's boat. For Ahab, Moby Dick is that mask. First, the themes of Moby-Dick are timeless: revenge, madness, loss, death, and friendship, just to name a few.
By naming him, he justifies his quest for vengeance because he is no longer ruthlessly hunting an animal but looking for an individual who has knowingly and purposefully targeted Captain Ahab. No matter that Moby Dick acts ''from blindest instinct''; Ahab must have his revenge. Long before Ahab's first appearance, there is an air of mystery about the captain of the Pequod. Ahab shows how strong revenge has hold of him when he refuses to come to their aid. When Ahab and his crew reach Moby Dick, Ahab finally stabs the whale with his harpoon but the whale again tips Ahab's boat.
Charismatic and cruel, he lost his leg from the knee down to Moby Dick in a previous encounter and has dedicated his energies to seeking revenge, outfitting the Pequod with a special crew and increasingly ignoring both economic and social norms in favor of his obsession. Later, Ahab's leg breaks and the carpenter must fix it. He will not allow anything to divert him from his true goal: to hunt and kill Moby Dick. On the second day of the chase, roughly the same defeat occurs. This brief introduction reveals significant information. Fate will not allow his need for revenge to go unsatisfied. Stubb tells them that the whales that they have vanquished are useless and could damage their ship, and when the Rosebud leaves these behind the Pequod takes them in order to gain the ambergris in one of them.
Part of the universal appeal of the book is that this is a madness to which many briefly aspire, from time to time, resisting our limited, petty roles in the universe. Ishmael keeps himself afloat on a coffin until he is picked up by another whaling ship, the Rachel. More than once did he put forth the faint blossom of a look, which, in any other man, would have soon flowered out in a smile. This quote shows exactly how much Captain Ahab personally hates Moby-Dick. In Nantucket, Queequeg and Ishmael choose between three ships for a year journey, and decide upon the Pequod. Ahab has a nearly psychic sense of Moby Dick's presence, and more tragically, the idea of Moby Dick perpetually haunts the formidable captain.
The quote is significant, not just because it is the only line in Latin, but also because Herman Melville wrote to his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne that the line was the book's secret motto. The Pequod does vanquish the next whale that it comes across, as Stubb strikes a whale with his harpoon. When his fate arrives, he strikes, and it briefly appears that it might heal him. He begins by asking: 'What is it, what nameless, inscrutable, unearthly thing is it; what cozening, hidden lord and master, and cruel, remorseless emperor, commands me; that against all natural lovings and longings, I so keep pushing, and crowding, and jamming myself on all the time; recklessly making me ready to do what in my own proper, natural heart, I durst not so much as dare? Ahab sees it as evil incarnate. Ahab's quest is grand, ungodly, and god-like. Ahab is viewed with awe by his crew, and his authority is unquestioned. His survival is due to his restless quest for understanding that mirrors the reader's.
Moby Dick is responsible for his disfigurement and only his death will restore any semblance of Ahab's health. . Queequeg is actually the son of a High Chief who left New Zealand because of his desire to learn among Christians. The owners hire the crew in Ahab's absence. Oedipus and Ahab are intelligent and ignorant at the same time, excessively proud, and both face a riddle the mystery of evil.
To understand Ahab, we must understand that it is this force behind the mask that Ahab really wants to kill. Ahab is out of control as he rants about attacking the force behind the façade of Moby Dick. When people look at animals in this way, ascribing human tendencies to them, this is known as anthropomorphizing. The inn is crowded and he must share a bed with the tattooed , , a harpooneer who Ishmael assumes to be a cannibal. It is easy to see why.