Symbols And Meanings In "Moby Dick"

2374 words - 10 pages

The novel begins with the famous statement by the book's narrator. "Call me Ishmael". He has the habit of going to sea whenever he begins to grow "hazy about the eyes." He goes to sea as a laborer, not as a Commodore, a Captain or a Cook, but as a simple sailor. He does so because he may be paid and because it affords him wholesome exercise and pure sea air. It is said that the novel Moby Dick is one of the most ambitious in American literature, one that encompasses many different styles of writing. Herman Melville uses his characters, his locations and even inanimate objects to serve as symbols for his story. This is a story of a man (Ahab), in search of Satan (Moby Dick), on the one hand, ...view middle of the document...

Throughout the novel, non-Christian societies are linked to evil behavior. With the exception of Queequeg, equating the pagan characters with Satan does align with the general religious overtones of the novel. Initially, Ishmael is swept totally into the compelling scope of Ahab's quest. "I, Ishmael, was one of that crew; my shouts had gone up with the rest; my oath had been welded with theirs; and stronger I shouted, and more did I hammer and clinch my oath, because of the dread in my soul. A wild, mystical sympathetical feeling was in me; Ahab's quenchless feud seemed mine" (Bickman. 33). Unlike most fictional narrators, Ishmael is not merely a surrogate for an absentee author. As a narrator, Ishmael enters more deeply into his symbolic world and increasingly becomes a presence, a visionary activity, instead of a man that we lose interest in as an individual, yet even Ishmael the sailor almost drops from the story. " It is Melville's own voice that utters the passage on the heroic stature of Ahab. This apparent violation of narrative standpoint is really a natural consequence of the symbolic method of Moby Dick" (Rountree. 83). It seems to me that the whole book, though cast in the form of historical narrative, tends to the conditioning of drama in the sense that it is a presentation, like Ishmael's vision of the whale processions, in which both Melville and Ishmael loose themselves.In my opinion, the sea represents a transitional place between two distinct states. This is shown early on in the novel in the case of Queequeg and the other Isolatoes (Daggoo and Tashtego) who represent the transition from uncivilized to civilized societies unbound by any specific nationality, yet in an overwhelming amount of cases, this transitional theme relates to the unstable line between life and death. There are many characters who waver on the edge between life and death, whether literary or metaphorically throughout Moby Dick. For example, during Queequeg's illness, he prepares for death and in fact remains in his own coffin waiting for the illness to overtake him, yet it never does. (Melville. Chapter 110). The coffin itself becomes a transitional element when the carpenter converts it into a life buoy and it thus becomes the symbol of the saving of a life and the ending of a life. Several of the minor characters in the novel also exist in highly transitional states between life and death. Another example is when Pippin jumps to his death from the whaling boat and is saved by dumb luck, yet he loses his sanity and behaves as if part of him, the "infinite of his soul", had already died; essentially, Pippin awaits death. This theme is further explored through the blacksmith, who primarily works on the sea to escape life, after his family had died. He exists on the sea primarily as a passage before he dies.Starbuck is the chief mate of the Pequod, a Nantucket native and a Quaker with a thin build. Melville portrays Starbuck as a strong believer in human...

Other Essays On Symbols And Meanings In "Moby Dick"

Why Essays Are Stupid

310 words - 2 pages who get off on writing essays, definately not anyone in the right mind, but usually some little queer in the closet who cant make friends and sucks dick for coke. Of course they never tell anybody about it, but rumor has it that it still goes on behind closed doors. Youd be amazed at the secret lives nerds leave, they are some strange people. Teachers have good intentions, but are still pretty dumb. not quite as dumb as police officer, but

the meaning of australia day Essay

487 words - 2 pages ".Some of the other symbols include The Golden Wattle,which is the national floral emblem,The Opal which is the national Gemstone and the national colours of green and gold.The Background Of Australia Day.On Januuary 26,1788,the First Fleet of 11 ships from Great Britain arrived at Port Jackson,which now forms Sydney Harbour.The First Fleet was led by Captain Arthur Phillip.He established the Colony of New South Wales,the first penal colony in

expectancy violation theory

326 words - 2 pages . They didn't met their expectations. Spiral of Silence This theory is about the mass media having a lasting effect in the public. The opinion of the majority is favored rather than the minority so the tendency is the minority tends not to share their opinions, thoughts and ideas and also to prevent isolation. For example: in a meeting of Samaskom organization. Most of the people who attended the meeting are 4th year students and they talked about the

Does the constitution Forbid Religious Displays on Public Property?

545 words - 3 pages respecting an establishment of religion”. And the second is the Free Exercise clause which states that our government cannot prohibit our free exercise, of the religion of our choice. The Establishment Clause is what we need to further examine, in regards to the display of religious symbols on public property. According to the Establishment Clause, the United States government cannot create a state religion, or promote one religion over

Pentecostal Visual

1427 words - 6 pages worshippers raise their hands during the benediction (Sanders, 2003).The Pentecostal Religion has three symbols that represent different meanings for every Religion, but for them as what they will believe and what their religion has been taught to believe. One of the main symbols for the Pentecostal is the Dove with the olive branch and that will mean peace for them. The olive branch represents when the water is receding from the flood, the dove

Describes the use of imagry in the first 8 chapters of "The Scarlet Letter" by Hawthorne

482 words - 2 pages other, repeated imagery, Hawthorne achieves symbols, ideas, and characterization that do not need to be announced directly to the reader. This style of writing could be used to enhance my own style by helping me to be less blatant about ideas and symbols, and also to help achieve the use of more symbolism and detail in my writing.

The Scarlet Letter 2

1687 words - 7 pages the minds of the lead characters. Hawthorne's use of symbols and romanticism are exceptional. Anyone interested in early colonization of America and the colonist's relationship with their church should read this book.I was drawn in from the beginning with the description of the prison and Hester herself. I was brought through the rest of the book with vivid descriptions of the characters and their environments. Although some chapters dragged on

Edgar Allen Poe's View Of Death In "The Fall Of The House Of Usher"

1836 words - 8 pages . 'It is usually admired for its 'atmosphere' and for its exquisitely artificial manipulation of Gothic claptrap and decor'(Abel, 380).Bringing forth the symbolism of death is a major part of this writing. All of the characters in 'The Fall of the House of Usher' are linked to death; by physical objects or by other people. 'There are no symbols of absolute good' (Abel, 382).The physical aspect of the House of Usher symbolizes death, in the chain

The Use Of Symbols In "A Streetcar Named Desire" By Tennessee Williams

1368 words - 6 pages take everyday objects or certain actions and transform them into symbols of significant meaning and importance to the plot and overall effectiveness of a work. In the play A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams, the use of symbols help the author portraying the messages they're trying to get across and are essential to the outcome of the play. Williams uses light, polka music and poker games as a few of the prominent symbols in

Organisational Culture, How It Develops And How It Is Effected By External And Internal Forces

4670 words - 19 pages but difficult to decipher. Schein warns that symbols are ambiguous and therefore can create Problems in classification.Espoused Values are:Initially started by founder, leader and then assimilated. Original values reflect the group learning process, what first begins as shared values become shared assumptions. They can be identified by viewing the mission of the organisation and the strategies that have been used in the past.Basic Assumptions

"Young Guns" Movie Review

693 words - 3 pages we have Jose Chavez Y Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips) a knife throwing expert who joined the Regulators in the war against the Ring. Next is Richard "Dick" Brewer (Charlie Sheen) one of Tunstalls' Regulators who seemed to take a back seat to Billy the Kid. Then we have Steve Stephens (Dermot Mulroney) aka "Dirty Steve," his rough-and-tumble style made him a natural for the Regulators. And last we have Charley Bowdre (Casey Siemaszko) a Regulator who

Similar Papers

Social And Symbolic Interactionism Essay

305 words - 2 pages Social InteractionismWhat is Symbolic Interactionism?A psycological theory that attempts to explain how individuals choose how they will act based on their perceptions of themselves and of others, as well emphasizes the importance of symbols and meaning in human interaction; the view that human behaviour depends on the meanings that object or situations have for the individuals.Where did Social Interaction originate from?The phrase symbolic

Gbfdyngfd Essay

716 words - 3 pages Though simply written, the "Catcher In The Rye" encompasses quite sophisticated meanings and symbols. J.D Sailinger seems to have succeeded in creating a symbolic environment for the novel, where everything and everyone represents a thing or epitomizes an idea. From the beginning of the novel, the author incorporated symbolism as an intricate and necessary tool for conveying the full scope of his tale.Perhaps one of the greatest symbolisms

The Hollywood Blacklist Essay

764 words - 4 pages transforming the media industry. Filmmakers refrained from publishing any information linked to communism due to fear of being included in the "Hollywood blacklist" (Dick 223). A majority of the communist sympathizers remained silent and some were incapable of getting employment in the US media industry. However, some of the professionals blacklisted progressed to work secretly using fictitious names or their friends' names (Dick 12). More people were

Dreams. From Why We Dream To How To Control Them

677 words - 3 pages uncomfortable nights will come to an end.Interpreting your dreams may take different methods and depends on the person. The most general method that people often use is breaking down your dream into understandable symbols. Symbols have personal meanings that you should be able to recognize. Another option in interpreting dreams is getting a dreams dictionary which helps you reveal the possible meaning. Some examples, dreaming about angels symbolizes