“An allusion is a reference to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art.” (Thompson 1155). Writers often use biblical and mythological allusions to which their readers are familiar. In Moby Dick, Herman Melville constantly uses biblical and mythological allusions. With these allusions the reader understand the topic of discussion and is also exposed to the wisdom and knowledge that Melville possess.
The first allusion appears in the first line of the novel. “Call me Ishmael.” (Melville1). Ishmael was the biblical son of Abraham and his servant Hagar. He was disowned in favor of Isaac, Abraham’s son with his wife Sarah. An angel prophesied to Hagar. “his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him.” (Genesis 16:12). The name “Ishmael” has since become used commonly for an outcast, which is “quite timely since he is nothing more than a tenderfoot when it comes to whaling and is viewed as n outcast to the other sailors upon the Pequod.” (Donahue 18).
Another biblical allusion is that of the prophet Elijah and Captain Ahab. Elijah warms Queequeg and Ishmael of Ahab. Ishmael says that he and Queequeg and boarding the Pequod because they have just “signed the articles” (Melville 68) and Elijah responds “Anything down there about your souls” (Melville 68). This conflict between Elijah and Ahab goes all the way back to the bible. I Kings describes the conflict between King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. Elijah tells Ahab that “in the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick they blood, even thine,” (I Kings 21:19), and that “the dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezrell” (I Kings 21:23). This allusion is significant for foreshadowing the destruction of the... [continues]
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