Sunday, January 15, 2012



"Moby Dick"

Not applicable

Land of Remakes


Herman Melville

From Wikipedia:
"Moby-Dick or, The Whale", was written by American author Herman Melville and first published in 1851. It is considered to be one of the Great American Novels and a treasure of world literature. The story tells the adventures of wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab has one purpose on this voyage: to seek out a specific whale--Moby Dick, a ferocious, enigmatic white sperm whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab's boat and bit off his leg, which now drives Ahab to take revenge.

In "Moby-Dick", Melville employs stylized language, symbolism, and metaphor to explore numerous complex themes. Through the main character's journey, the concepts of class and social status, good and evil, and the existence of God are all examined, as Ishmael speculates upon his personal beliefs and his place in the universe. The narrator's reflections, along with his descriptions of a sailor's life aboard a whaling ship, are woven into the narrative along with Shakespearean literary devices, such as stage directions, extended soliloquies, and asides. The book portrays destructive obsession and monomania, as well as the assumption of anthropomorphism--projecting human instincts, characteristics and motivations onto animals. Moby Dick is ruthless in attacking the sailors who attempt to hunt and kill him, but it is Ahab who invests Moby Dick's natural instincts with malignant and evil intentions. In fact, it is not the whale but the crippled Ahab who alone possesses this characteristic.

"Moby-Dick" has been classified as American Romanticism. It was first published by Richard Bentley in London on October 18, 1851, in an expurgated three-volume edition titled "The Whale", and weeks later as a single volume, by New York City publisher Harper and Brothers as "Moby-Dick or, The Whale" on November 14, 1851. The book initially received mixed reviews, but "Moby-Dick" is now considered part of the Western canon, and at the center of the canon of American novels.

He is a giant albino sperm whale and the main antagonist of the novel. He bit off Ahab's leg, leaving Ahab to swear revenge. The cetacean also attacked the Rachel and killed the captain's son. At the end of the story he kills the entire crew, with the exception of Ishmael. Although he is an integral part of the novel, Moby Dick appears in just three of the 135 chapters and the reader does not have access to his thoughts and motivations. Moby Dick is considered to be a symbol of a number of things, among them God, nature, fate, the ocean, and the very universe itself.

The symbolism of the White Whale is deliberately enigmatic, and its inscrutability is a deliberate challenge to the reader. Ishmael describes the whale’s forehead as having wrinkles and scars on it that look like hieroglyphics, and recounts:

All the reader can know is that the White Whale symbolizes many things to various characters in the novel. It is their personal interpretations of Moby-Dick, in addition to their individual ruminations on the gold doubloon Ahab has nailed to the mast to motivate his crew, that serve as a further clue to their own inner makeup.
From the source:
A gentle joyousness- a mighty mildness of repose in swiftness, invested the gliding whale. Not the white bull Jupiter swimming away with ravished Europa clinging to his graceful horns; his lovely, leering eyes sideways intent upon the maid; with smooth bewitching fleetness, rippling straight for the nuptial bower in Crete; not Jove, not that great majesty Supreme! did surpass the glorified White Whale as he so divinely swam.

On each soft side- coincident with the parted swell, that but once leaving him then flowed so wide away- on each bright side, the whale shed off enticings. No wonder there had been some among the hunters who namelessly transported and allured by all this serenity, had ventured to assail it; but had fatally found that quietude but the vesture of tornadoes. Yet calm, enticing calm, oh, whale! thou glidest on, to all who for the first time eye thee, no matter how many in that same way thou mayst have bejuggled and destroyed before.

And thus, through the serene tranquilities of the tropical sea, among waves whose hand-clappings were suspended by exceeding rapture, Moby Dick moved on, still withholding from sight the full terrors of his submerged trunk, entirely hiding the wrenched hideousness of his jaw. But soon the fore part of him slowly rose from the water; for an instant his whole marbleized body formed a high arch, like Virginia's Natural Bridge, and warningly waving his bannered flukes in the air, the grand god revealed himself, sounded and went out of sight. Hoveringly halting, and dipping on the wing, the white sea-fowls longingly lingered over the agitated pool that he left.


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