I. Biographical Insights
A. The culture this great author was a part of was the time in American history where inspiring works of literature began to emerge. It was also a time when American writers had not completely separated its literary heritage from Europe, partly because there were successful literary genius flourishing there.
B. Herman Melville was born on August 1, 1819, he was the son of Allan and Maria Melville. During Hermans childhood he lived in the good neighborhoods of New York City. In 1832 Herman suffered tragedy when his father died after trying to cope with the stress of debts and misfortunes. After a short time in a business house in New York City, Herman determined he needed to go to sea. He spent years traveling on a variety of ships, including whaling ships.
C1. Melvilles perspective on life is that God created the universe with an infinite number of meanings and man is always trying to determine one specific meaning. D2. The lessons that Melville is likely to weave into his writing are 1. An exposition on whales and the whaling industry. 2. A commentary on the universe and human destiny. 3. Thoughts about God and Nature.
B. The protagonist in this book is Ishmael, a Christian, schoolteacher and part-time sailor. Ishmaels role in the hunt for Moby Dick is to interpret what is happening. He discusses his reasons for going to sea and interprets and looks for understanding a number of reasons for any specific action where other characters only understand one reason.
C. It is hard to say what changes take place in Ishmaels personality, since he is the narrator he doesnt talk about himself, he only talks about what he sees.
D1. Ishmael befriends Queequeg who is a cannibal. Even though Queequeg is very ugly Ishmael sees that Queequeg has an honest heart, great honor, and a lot of courage. This friendship had a positive influence on Ishmaels behavior because it taught him not to judge on outward appearances. E2. Another relationship that was very short was the relationship between Ishmael and Captain Ahab. For the first few days aboard the Pequod Ishmael always saw Ahab in the shadows. When Ishmael finally saw Ahab he had shivers run through his body. Ishmael felt Ahabs attitude of determination, dedication and hatred towards Moby Dick in Ahabs appearance. This relationship was a negative relationship because Ishmael now feared Ahab and did not want to become friends with such an evil person. F. The conflict that Ishmael experienced was that he saw how Ahab was such an evil man and that Ishmael was a good natured man and did not want to be corrupted by Ahab. To resolve this conflict Ishmael stayed away from Ahab.
Representative Passage on Imagery and Figurative Language Yonder, by the ever-brimming goblets rim, the warm waves blush like wine. The gold brow plumbs the blue. The diver sunlong dived from noon,goes down; my soul mounts up! she wearies with her endless hill. Is, then, the crown too heavy that I wear? this Iron Crown of Lombardy. Yet is it bright with many a gem; I, the wearer, see not its far flashings; but darkly fell that I wear that, that dazzlingly confounds. Tis ironthat I knownot gold. Tis split, toothat I feel; the jagged edge galls me so, my brain seems to beat against the solid metal. Chapter LV
A. The details being used to make us feel like we are watching a sunset is that it says the warm waves blush like wine. The gold brow plumbs the blue. The diver sunlong dived from noon,goes down; my soul mounts up!
B. The similes the author uses are the comparison of the colored waves of the sunset to wine. I believe that when the author is talking about the Iron Crown of Lombardy he is talking about the sun. When it says Is, then, the crown too heavy that I wear? he is talking about the sunrise as the sun first starts ascending. I think that noon is where it is says Yet is it bright with many a gem; I, the wearer, see not its far flashings;. I also think that Tis ironthat I knownot gold. Tis split, toothat I feel; the jagged edge galls me so, my brain seems to beat against the solid metal. means he wants to take off the crown signifying sunset.
IV. Symbolism / Allusions D. The objects that are representative of larger ideas are Moby Dick who is a symbol of all of the things in the universe. The color of the whale being white could mean so many different and conflicting things that it cant be narrowed down to one meaning. The coffin that was turned into a buoy that saved Ishmaels life could suggest that the meaning of any object lies in the beholder of the object not the object itself. The place that is a representative of a larger idea is the sea. The sea represents a mans life, it symbolizes the fears that a man must overcome in life in order to gain a fuller understanding of life. B. The sea is a constant presence throughout the novel. As the sea is constantly in the background of the scene.
C. References to previous literature are outlines on the Sperm Whale, but the literature he is referring to do not have name of the works only the names of the authors. I know of only four published outlines of the great Sperm Whale: Colnett, Huggins, Frederick Cuviers, and Beales.
E. Representative Passage on Tone and Authors Philosophy
What a pity they didnt stop up the chinks and the crannies though, and thrust in a little lint here and there. But its too late to make any improvements now. The universe is finished; the copestone is on, and the chips were carted off a million years ago. Chapter II A. The metaphors Melville is using indicates the condition of man and about mans uncertainty in the universe we live in. His tone is that of questioning man choosing his own destiny through his own actions. Melvilles attitude is that of Mans absolute insignificance in the universe. There is nothing Man can do to improve the present state of the universe once he has acted on his decision.
F. Aspects of his philosophy which can be inferred is Mans continual struggle with himself in this universe. The vastness of the universe and mans place in it is difficult for the average man to comprehend. At best he can just figure out one meaning, but there could be more.
F. This novel has influenced my attitudes and beliefs on the destiny of man and has shown me that there is more than one view of every object. It showed me that I need to be open minded and examine things from more than one point of view before I judge the object.
G. In this novel one of the authors goals was of indicating the condition of man and about mans uncertainty in the universe we live in. Melville also shows the reader about Mans absolute insignificance in the universe.
H. I believe the author was very successful in achieving these goals. Herman did a great job of representing objects with things of deeper meaning. Throughout the book you are shown Mans insignificance in the universe by the relationship of the crew to the ocean. You are also shown of how a Mans decision once executed cant be changed, an example of that is when Captain Ahab throws the spear into Moby Dick. The spears rope got wrapped around Ahabs neck and when the whale dove Ahab went with it. There was nothing Ahab could do to escape.
I. The topics in this novel are very true but an adventure loving reader will read this book and focus on what went on rather than what the novel was trying to say. This book could be significant to a reader who wants to know about Mans relation to the universe. The difference this novel will have on society is that it will help a person find their relation to the universe.