Moby Dick Essay, Research Paper
What the item is about?
The novel Moby Dick is the story of how Ishmael the narrator came to set sail on a fateful whaling voyage. He travels to Nantucket, where he visits the docks to find a ship; he discovers the Pequod. As Ishmael and his friend Queequeg make their way to board the ship, they meet a haggard looking, wild-eyed man who calls himself Elijah. He warns them against sailing with the Pequod, and hints that there might be something to fear about their mysterious captain, Ahab. Although Ishmael has not yet met Ahab, he dismisses the Elijah s warning, and the two set sail with the Pequod on Christmas Day.
Ishmael is introduced to the rest of the ship s crew: the first mate, Starbuck, the second mate, Stubb, and the third mate, Flask. Finally, after several days at sea, the men meet their captain, Ahab: a fierce looking Nantucketer with a white streak in his hair leading to a scar down the side of his face, and with one false leg made of ivory.
Ahab paces the deck, and does not talk to the men nearly at all … until one day he nails a piece of Spanish gold to the main mast of the ship, announcing that whoever first spies a white whale will receive it as a reward. This white whale, called Moby Dick by Ahab, seems to cause him considerable anxiety; he reveals that it was Moby Dick who bit off his leg. The sailors seem excited at their potential reward, and vow to hunt Moby Dick to the death. Ahab, meanwhile, speaks to himself in terms that suggest his maniacal obsession with the Whale.
As the Pequod continues on her course, Ahab grows more and more obsessed with finding and killing Moby Dick even holding a kind of black mass in which he uses the blood of his harpooneers to cool the blade of a new, deadly harpoon. In the closing chapters of the novel, Ahab heads the ship into a dangerous storm, allows most of her instruments to break down, and ultimately abandons any pretense of conducting an ordinary whaling voyage. Finally, Ahab finds the White Whale, and spends three successive days making attempts on its life. The fiendish whale attacks the fragile whaleboats with jaws and tail, eventually sinking the Pequod itself, and killing Ahab. Only Ishmael, who floats safely distant from the scene of carnage, survives and is rescued.
What does the item reveals about obsession?
The novel Moby Dick shows Ahab s single-minded pursuit of the white whale, Moby Dick, which is the only thing he lives for and is eventually the thing he dies for as Moby Dick strangles him with his own harpoon line. Ahab is eventually killed because he was obsessed with capturing and killing Moby Dick. These events reveal through the character of Ahab and his obsession with Moby Dick that obsession is evil, will take over a person s life and lead to their demise.
An Analysis of the structure and language features used to shpae the perception of obsession.
In the novel Moby Dick , soliloquys, speeches, character s actions and the powerful usage of certain words are used to shape the perception of obsession.
In chapter 36, Captain Ahab announces, I ll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition s flames before I give him up. Starbuck, the symbol of good who contrasts with Ahab s darkness, refuses to go along with the Captain s obsession, pointing out that they were here to hunt all whales, not one in particular. Ahab, however, will have none of Starbuck s objections. Instead, he makes a speech revealing the power of his obsession: it isn t just that Moby Dick chewed off his leg. Rather, it is that Moby Dick represents, for Ahab, an inscrutable thing that feeds his madness. God keep me! – keep us all! whispers Starbuck, now aware that he is in the presence of evil.
After that, Ahab, utters a soliloquy that further demonstrates his insanity even declaring, I m demoniac, I m madness maddened! He vows that he will dismember his dismemberer, and will not be swerved from his goal of capturing the white whale.
Ahab sits in his cabin, studying maps of the sea and old log-books, containing information about where sperm whales have been seen and where their migrations usually take them. Ahab then traces lines on one of his charts but in a way that suggests that he is mapping out the whereabouts of one whale in particular. In fact, the entire voyage appears to have been planned to coincide with Moby Dick s noted appearances. Ahab seems to be animated only by one thing: to travel the oceans of the world endlessly in search of the white whale. Even at the end of the novel when the boats are wrecked and some people are dead, Ahab still remains focused on killing Moby Dick.
The soliloquys, speeches, and words uttered by Ahab and his actions are used to shpae the perception of obsession. The reader is left with the knowledge that when a person is obsessed, all their attention is focused towards the object of the obsession, that nothing else matters and they are even willing to die in the pursuit of the obsession.