Herman Melville's Moby Dick

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What is the allegorical nature of good and evil in Herman Melville's Moby Dick? If anyone knows please answer before Monday if at all possible.

-- Anonymous, November 21, 2003



-- Anonymous, November 21, 2003

Read Ahab's speeches. The allegory is rather simple and elemental. The forces of nature, the hunt and human pride interact to promote Ahab's view in his defensive speeches to Starbuck. Moby Dick represents nature or life itself and Ahab as the patriarchal Man, consumed by self-will and pride, yet another Byronic anti-hero or Miltonic Satan. That Romantic era notion marks the ambivalence in the use of white as emblematic of evil(an Asian, Antractic symbol that Melville understood from his own South Seas voyages, also detailed in the book). Starbuck is the conflicted man representing civilization existing trapped between the forces and losing its power to act or save itself. While Starbuck seems to represent religion and sanity it is the conventional mainstream which itself is not able to endure the real crisis. The whale, the ship(world peopled by sailors from all nations) and Ahab all perish locked in the brutish struggle. Cripes, even the albatross is nailed to the mast of the sinking ship though some get to feast on the dead and "Ishmael" survives on his coffin.

In this allegory the search for survivors is the last miserable symbol of continuation. Melville, like Poe eschewed the Bunyan or Dante one dimensional similes. Metaphor and symbolism becomes more complex even though the Biblical references and obvious representations are blunt and heavy-handed. The Shakespearian high drama, extreme plot, in the dialogue sections is probably offset by the factual recreation of the whaling world and the Romantic ambivalence between admiring the powerful rebellion of Ahab and being horrified at the inevitable disaster.

-- Anonymous, November 21, 2003

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