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"

Herman Melville's Writing Style - English - Essay

612 words - 3 pages Herman Melville is an American author and poet most recognized for his novel, Moby Dick. He was born on August 1, 1819 in New York City. Melville was born the third of eight children. About three weeks after he wa born, he was baptized by a minister of the South Reformed Dutch Church. He lived a well-off life with servants and elegant quarters. His last family house was set on Broadway in 1828. When Melville was five, he began his schooling. In

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

the most dangerous game and child by tiger escape or interpretive - BYU/ENGL231 - Assignment

748 words - 3 pages obvious indications as to why “The Most Dangerous Game” is escape literature. I believe that “The Child by Tiger” is interpretive literature. Unlike the characters in “The Most Dangerous Game”, Dick Prosser is a complex character. Some of his characteristics are easily understood such as his shooting and boxing skills and his tidy habits, but it does not fully tell you everything about the character. At the beginning of the story, the reader sees Dick

Bridge to Terabithia Book report - Greenville Tech, English 102 - Book report

669 words - 3 pages . The time they spend together in Terabithia seem to help them through hard times in everyday life it is there they plot of payback on the school bully when she steals Jess’s little sister Maybelle's Twinkies. Terabithia is also where they talk about Jess's feelings of insecurity. Leslie teaches Jess about the world of imagination and opens his mind up to a new creative world. She tells him stories like Moby Dick and Hamlet. They play games using

Great Gatsby Essay :: American Dream is badd - English, UHS - Essay

1179 words - 5 pages -proclaimed “tale of the West,” the novel explores questions about America and the varieties of the American Dream. In this respect, The Great Gatsby is perhaps that legendary opus, the “Great American Novel”—following in the footsteps of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. As a novel that has much to say about faith, belief, and illusion, it merits being considered alongside works like T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land

Literature Circle Review for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - PETHS ENGLISh - Assignment

431 words - 2 pages him to find coping strategies. These strategies are displayed in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time through various symbols with deep meanings. Logic problems, math equations and maps symbolize the world where everything is logical and in order to Christopher. He uses them to organize his thoughts and how his daily schedule will look like. An example would be when Christopher explains the Monty Hall problem to explain how his

Gbfdyngfd

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

Debriefer role that summarizes everyones roles - arkansas college - class assignment

435 words - 2 pages important in a story. We decided that without setting, the background of the story and the people of it would have no context. The Wordsmith’s word was archetypal, meaning a symbolic setting representing someone or something. The Artist of our group provided a picture of a mystical place to show that setting has a large impact on what the story entails. For Chapter 5, the Ringleader asked how symbols reveal an author’s message. Our group thought

The Hollywood Blacklist

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

Explain the concepts of religious language as analogy and symbol - university - essay

1157 words - 5 pages symbols do four things in particular: they point to something beyond themselves, they participate in that to which they point to, they open up levels of reality which are usually closed to us and they open up dimensions of the soul. Tillich simply named this 'theory of participation'. He argued that symbols help describe things that cannot always be expressed in words alone. The only way we can describe God in a meaningful way is through the use of

Similar Papers

Racial Fixation And Otherness In Moby Dick And Heart Of Darkness Ap Literature Essay

1811 words - 8 pages LaGreca 1 Annamarie LaGreca Mr. Chorazy AP Literature and Composition 22 January 2018 Otherness and Racial Fixation in ​Moby Dick​ and ​Heart of Darkness The term otherness, by definition, is described as the quality or fact of being different. Apart from its generic elucidation, otherness is commonly used in literature to depict an inferior or distinct kind. Authors use this idea in order to imply an underlying message or theme in their works

Moby Dick And Ishamel's Journey English 3 Essay

2487 words - 10 pages with finding the “right balance” is prevalent to all humans, including those in Herman Melville’s, Moby Dick. We meet Ishmael, a young and eager man, whom was orphaned as a child and is desperate for the familial love and connection that acts as the foundation to many more fortunate then he. Already, Ishmael is portrayed to be struggling with the balance of love from others and self-love, a theme which will continue throughout the rest of the

Compare And Contrast Of Symbols In Death Of A Salesman And A Streetcar Named Desire Ib Lit Literature Paper

1360 words - 6 pages end life and the desire to prolong it is where these two characters and the symbols that are used to represent them contrast. Willy wants nothing more than to leave a lasting impression of himself on the world and the people around him. The pretend world that he lives in is a world where he is everything he’s ever wanted to be. In reality Willy hates his job and constantly dwells on the opportunities he has missed in his life, like going into

Messages And Symbols In Othello English Essay

909 words - 4 pages ​ ​black man​ ​but​ ​was​ ​still​ ​the​ ​leader​ ​of​ ​the​ ​venetian​ ​army.​ ​​Othello​ ​​was​ ​made​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Elizabethan​ ​Era where​ ​black​ ​individuals​ ​were​ ​still​ ​remembered​ ​as​ ​slaves.Othello​ ​and​ ​Desdemona's​ ​marriage had​ ​some​ ​very​ ​bad​ ​backlash​ ​on​ ​their​ ​community​ ​and​ ​society​ ​and​ ​some​ ​considered​ ​it​ ​to​ ​be something​ ​that's​​ ​​"against​ ​all​ ​rules​ ​of​ ​nature"(1.3.102)​​ ​​.Society​ ​back