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Moby Dick and its Biblical Allusions

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Moby Dick and its Biblical Allusions

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  • December 16, 2002
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"Biblical Aspect of Moby Dick"

4/5/02

Moby Dick is a novel filled with many biblical allusions, and I feel strongly that there are certain characters in the book that portray biblical characters or express the same situations in the Bible. In the beginning of the book, Father Mapple gives a sermon to the sailors about Jonah and the whale. This story in itself has much symbolism and starts the book off with the notion that God and the Bible are very much a part of the story. In specific there are a few main characters that support the fact that they are symbolic to the Bible.

First, Ishmael is the main character in the story and is the narrator through most of the book. He is very different from all of the sailors on the ship. He has class, intelligence, and he knows nothing about whaling or the sea. In the book of Genesis, Ishmael was an outcast "with everyone's hand against him," and in the book you see how he is different from the sailors because of his small knowledge of whaling. To further examine Ishmael's situation, he says he escapes to the sea to leave the depressions that have ridden his life. Another part of Genesis tells us that Ishmael wasn't Abraham's true son because he was born through one of Abraham's maids (supposedly Sarai, his wife, was infertile) and ever since Isaac was born, Ishmael was shunned. Like in Moby Dick, Ishmael was looked down upon from the beginning because he didn't have the history that other people on the boat had as sailors. Ishmael is always different from everyone, and he looks at everything in an interrogative way, so he thinks of Moby Dick as a holy mysterious creature while Capt. Ahab thinks Moby Dick is pure evil.

Moby Dick is the most complicated, undefined character in the book. But to attempt to understand this enigma, let's look at what we know about him. Moby Dick is a white, massive sperm whale, the largest and most feared by all beings in the sea. To Ahab, Moby Dick is the highest of all evil. To...