Moby Dick Literary Analysis
Moby Dick, the classic tale of a young man who seeks purpose in life through a whaling expedition, but becomes wrapped up in a web of revenge, obsession, and eventually death. From the start of the book, a sense of predestined doom becomes apparent to the reader. This foreshadowing of the Pequod’s fate is presented through recurring mortality themes, biblical allusions, and omens. Of the many symbols that foretell what will befall the ship and crew, the most telling are the instances surrounding coffins. Before Ishmael sails to Nantucket, he spends a few nights at the Spouter-Inn. Melville takes the opportunity to add a foreboding feeling to the book early on by giving the inn proprietor the name Peter Coffin. Choosing such a dark name brings death to the front of the mind at the very start of the book. This morbid theme is continued through the unusual story revolving around Queequeg’s coffin. Although it later represents life when saving Ishmael in the epilogue, the intricate coffin Queequeg possess is a way to foreshadow what fate the Indian will eventually face. Biblical allusions are abundant in Moby Dick, among them are the prominent semblances to the story of Jonah and the Whale, and to the prophet Elijah. A weathered clergyman by the name of Father Mapple preaches a passionate sermon of the well known tale about Jonah and the whale. While many parallels exist between the sermon and the entire book, the most foreboding is the warning that those who ignore God’s plan in order to following their own will face grave consequences. This chapter, aptly named The Sermon, is a direct way to foreshadow the grave results of Ahab’s disregard for the Pequod’s original mission for his own monomaniacal chase for the White Whale. Another religious connection is through the seemingly insane character Elijah who heckles Ishmael and Queequeg before they set sail in Nantucket. He asks them mysterious questions regarding Ahab, and gives...
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