Captain Ahab and Moby Dick:
Literary critics point to a variety of themes and juxtapositions when analyzing Herman Melville's "Moby Dick". Some see the land opposed to the sea or Fate opposed to free will. Most mention man versus nature or good versus evil. A perspective that seems overlooked though is the perspective of the self and the other. The self and other is when one discovers the other (something not us) within oneself, when one realizes that one is not a single being alien to anything that is not them. There are many such relationships throughout the book, such as that of Ishmael and Queequeg and Ahab and Starbuck. However, this paper will focus on the essential relationship, which is of Ahab and Moby-Dick. By recognizing the other within ourselves, we are saved from hating the other in itself. Captain Ahab struggled to see Moby-Dick within himself, in this began the book's main problem of the self and the other. Before I get to this problem lets track the character of Ahab's development up to that point. Chapters early in the book describe Ahab as having lost his leg to Moby-Dick. This character development suggests that Ahab is the victim of an attack by a vicious animal. However, by chapter 36 "The Quarter Deck", Ahab is described as a man infatuated with destroying a great white whale, named Moby-Dick. By chapter 37 "Sunset", it is obvious that Ahab is mad and in chapter 44 "The Chart", the reader is made aware of Ahab's "monomaniac thought of his soul." He was so obsessed with Moby-Dick that he couldn't sleep. Ahab must have had some cause for his feelings toward the whale. It seems that Ahab and many other sailors have been exposed to the story of Jonah, which may have established man and whale as enemies. Also, is chapter 54 "The Town-Ho's Story" Melville tells of an account of Moby-Dick's capabilities. In this story, Moby-Dick snatches Radney from his ship and takes him below the ocean's surface. However, for some reason Ahab does not hear...
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