Good Moby Dick Theme On Revenge Essay Example
"Moby Dick or The Whale" is a masterpiece of Melville’s creativity - an epic story of the whaling ship "Pequod" and "godless and godlike" Captain Ahab. It was his obsession to find the white whale that has led the ship and his team to the death. The main motive of the novel is revenge. Ahab, the captain of the ship "Pequod" everywhere pursues the great white whale nicknamed Moby Dick. Because of the sperm whale captain deprived his leg and now wants to kill this animal. Ahab wants to prove that blind nature can not win a man because the man is the crown of creation. However, obsessed with the pursuit and revenge Ahab loses human form - it seems he is ready to sell his soul to the devil just to catch a whale. Together with the theme of revenge the book from beginning to end is impregnated by God. Melville grieves not about the absence of divine providence in the fight against the world's evil, but on the contrary, is worried about the irreparable consequences passing all boundaries of arrogance, vanity, insolence and permissiveness, accompanying the character’s movement towards the goal. (Brian 367-369)
System of images of "Moby Dick" gives us a clear idea of the basic motives present in Melville's novel. I think that the main character in this novel is Ahab. The image of Captain Ahab is attracting keen interest. He is studied by Melville in detail and thoroughly and the author allocates him an entire chapter entitled "Ahab" where the reader closer gets acquainted with the character:
“For several days after leaving Nantucket, nothing above hatches was seen of Captain Ahab Reality outran apprehension; Captain Ahab stood upon his quarter-deck. There seemed no sign of common bodily illness about him, nor of the recovery from any. He looked like a man cut away from the stake, when the fire has overrunningly wasted all the limbs without consuming them, or taking away one particle from their compacted aged robustness. His whole high, broad form, seemed made of solid bronze” (Melville 142)
The image of Ahab is mysterious and incomprehensible as any future. He has no fear, no pity, and no sympathy. He is bold, adventurous and brave. Ahab goes to his goal without confusing himself and others by Christian commandments. He is ready to throw these commandments overboard and form an alliance with the devil. There are no such obstacles, through which he could not step over. Neither death, nor the tears of orphans and arguments about justice and freedom can bother him. In his monstrous egotism Ahab does not see the man in man because a person to him is no more than a tool, which he uses to carry out his revenge. He says the team that he intends to pursue the White Whale "over the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, and the Norwegian Malshtrem, and the flame of destruction." Nothing would induce him to abandon the chase. "That is the purpose of your swim, people! - he screams in a violent rage. - Chasing the White Whale in both hemispheres, as long as it will not release the fountain of black blood and shake on waves his white body! Captured by a fierce energy of Captain Ahab, the team promises to hate the White Whale, and Ahab nails to the mast the golden doubloon, designed the one who first sees Moby Dick. Ahab sacrifices everything to fight the white whale. At home, he left his young wife and little son. Despite his obsession, he is deeply suffering. (Pete 39-48)
Ahab perceives the white whale as "the source of all his spiritual sufferings; delusional embodiment of all evil; elusive dark force ". All the evil in the representation of the mad Ahab became visible and accessible for revenge in the guise of Moby Dick. The evil that sees Ahab in the White Whale is the projection of some part of his mind. Evil is an element of Ahab’s consciousness. Ahab does not matter what represents Moby Dick actually. He needs only those features which he gives to White Whale:
“ All the more fell for that in his frantic morbidness he at last came to identify with him. Not only all his bodily woes, but all his intellectual and spiritual exasperations. The White Whale swam before him as the monomaniac incarnation of all those malicious agenciesThat intangible malignity which has been from the beginningAhab did not fall down and worship it like them; but deliriously transferring its idea to the abhorred white whale, he pitted himself, all mutilated, against it; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby Dick” (Melville 203)
Ahab’s consciousness is influenced by the external world. American life with its social inequality, improper distribution of wealth, the universal dependence on incomprehensible to most contemporaries laws, governing capitalist society, legalized slavery of blacks and virtual slavery of all workers, the extermination of the Indians, political adventurism, wars of conquest, aspiration for profit, declared the supreme virtue, boundless bigotry and hypocrisy of people, homicide and defilement of the soul, which became everyday norm - that is what is behind the Ahab’s conventional concept of evil.
He projects his own ideas, his manifestation of consciousness on the things of higher world. He turns the facelessness of whale into the "intolerable allegory." The tragedy of such an image is that for him the only possible means of destruction of evil is self-destruction. But the trouble is that this kind of people, like Ahab, does not go away himself, he leads to the death other people. While hunting for the white whale, Ahab wants his death, but the death of Moby Dick, an obsession in the mind of Ahab, turns out his death in reality. (Winfried 211 – 213)
Ahab is presented as superperson. Rebellion against Moby Dick is a rebellion against God as unknowable and hostile force. If God is not kind to the man, then what it is. The hostile attitude of God to man makes his Absolute. Ahab is not a Christian; he transgresses the limits of human morality. In his rebellion, denying the supreme divinity, he personifies it by himself. Ahab does not tolerate indifference of higher forces (example: a conversation with the wind).
The theme of fate is not only fatality. It is based on biblical and religious imagery. In the names of the heroes is contained the moral principle that unites a person with reality. In the novel is presented the theme of the lonely human soul, torn away from the world, thrown in the ocean of despair. Man seeks participation, goodness and joy. Ishmael’s image is taken from the Bible; he was the son of Abraham and Hagar. He is a wanderer, an outcast, an orphan of the world. Travel substitute for Ishmael a bullet in the forehead, hence, it is long death for him. Death is the umbilical cord that connects people with the world. Death determines special unity. If each person will die, he will accept the world too. From the whale is created the world. Death is a transition to another state. Therefore, the motive of death is very important in the novel. Historical time is flattering. Hence there are a lot of Christian allusions. The Bible gives a lot of things to the novel. Ahab is adherent to the cult of the sun, Vaal is associated with the figure of a whale. And, according to the Bible, Ahab obeys the cult of Vaal. The idea of God is not under investigation. The problem of faith is not solved in the novel and can not be solved. The whale reminds readers of the Biblical legend of Jonah. Jonah was thrown overboard by mariners, who found him guilty of their misfortunes. A large whale swallowed him. And Jonah lived in the belly of the fish three days, after which the whale threw prophet on the shore with the help of God. In an effort to avoid punishment, Jonah brought on him new sufferings. (Elisa 4-7)
Very bright carnival form present in "Moby Dick" is like a sermon, parodying church service. Here laugh turned to the "sacred" reduces and profanes tenets of Christian morality. In the characteristics of the novel’s characters, in the determination of their different religious and cultural nature the "food" component plays an important role. It is almost entirely expelled from the sphere of Ahab, because of his high purpose - a relentless struggle against evil - can not coexist with lowly "physiological" realities which are food and drink, laugh, relax. The joys of life in their specific real aspect are subordinated to the hero’s gloomy, ponderous purposefulness, Puritan austerity. (David 4, 8-10)
Conclusion. Thus, the system of images of "Moby Dick" gives us a fairly clear idea about the basic motives present in Melville's novel. I can conclude that catastrophes are often preceded by a violation of law and morality, strife, crime of people; the world goes up in flames, flood, cold, heat, hunger. The death of "Pequod", wrapped in the narrative by mysterious atmosphere of prophecies, is explained by the state of the ship and the behavior of his obsessive captain.
In the arguments of author are widely used historical, geographical, literary and religious associations. But even when he writes about God, his arguments are philosophical rather than religious. In his eyes, modern Christianity and primitive cults of paganism are a phenomenon of the same order as they are both very far from the truth. All that we see in the novel "Moby Dick" shows the life of American society at the beginning of the XIX century.
Brian Higgins, Hershel Parker. Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews. 2009
David Cope. Melville / Shakespeare. 1998
Elisa New. Bible Leaves! Bible Leaves! Hellenism and Hebraism inMelville's Moby-Dick.1998
Herman Melville. Moby Dick or the Whale. 2008
Pete Steadman. An Evolutionary Analysis of Moby Dick:The Pequod's Search for Brotherhood, Status, and Mystery. 2011
Winfried Fluck, Herbert Grabes, Jlirgen Schlaeger, Brook Thomas. Cultures of Criticism: Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, Expressive Individualism, and the New Historicism.2009