Ishmael is ultimately a different character than most main characters in most novels. His point of view varies from first person to third person omniscient and sometimes he disappears altogether. Melville uses Ishmael as an instrument to depict the story rather than another man aboard the Whaling Ship. He cannot be compared to the other characters in the story because for one he is the smartest man on the ship. His purpose for whaling is one that is very different from that of the others. Ishmael has a score to settle and a revenge to gain.
Ishmael is in a sense a drifter. The opening sentence to Moby Dick “Call me Ishmael” suggests that his name is not important to him but rather just a title. The fact that he reveals that the ships are his Yale and Harvard proves that he doesn’t commit himself to any one thing but is able to accomplish everything that he applies himself too. Being a child of the sea for such a period of time forces him to sometimes embellish on information. His fear of Queequeg is more a fear of the unknown than the actual man, in my opinion. He sometimes creates these random scenarios in his mind and allows them to overwhelm him.
Melville created a character that is more than just a character, Ishmael is more so a reflection of Melville. He is greater than just an antagonist but still maintains those characteristics of such.