Foreshadowing of Death in Moby Dick

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In Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, a recurring theme of death is seen throughout the book. A coffin appears at the beginning of the book and at the end of the book, Ishmael sees a large oil painting that foreshadows and represents many things and events that follow in the book, and Fedallah makes a prophecy talking about hearses and predicts Ahab's death. Ishmael stays at The Sprouter-Inn, whose proprietor was a man named Peter Coffin. In the end, Ishmael clings to a coffin for over a day until rescued by another boat. The picture Ishmael sees contains many things seen later in the book, such as a whale and a horrible storm. Fedallah's prophecy of hearses and hemp prove to be true.

Moby Dick begins and ends with a coffin. At the beginning of the book, Ishmael talks to Peter Coffin, the proprietor of The Sprouter-Inn, for a place to stay. He does not have any open rooms so Ishmael is forced to room with Queequeg whom he does not meet until after he goes to sleep. When Queequeg walks in, Ishmael says, "Landlord, for God's sake, Peter Coffin! Landlord! Watch! Coffin! Angels! save me!" (Melville, 23) This quotation foreshadows the event later in the story when Ishmael will again need a coffin's help. In the epilogue, it is described, "the coffin life-buoy shot lengthwise from the sea, fell over, and floated by my side. Buoyed up by that coffin, for almost one whole day and night, I floated on a soft dirge-like main." (Melville, 552) In both situations, a coffin rescues Ishmael.

Ishmael studies an oil portrait in The Sprouter-Inn that foreshadows and symbolizes many things that are seen later in the story. Melville describes the picture,
The picture represents a Cape-Horner in a great hurricane; the half-foundered ship
weltering there with its three dismantled masts alone visible; and an exasperated
whale, purposing to spring clean over the craft, is in the enormous act of impaling
itself upon the three mast-heads. (Melville, 11)...
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