A Reading of Symbols in Moby Dick

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Title: A Reading of Symbols in Moby Dick

Abstract: Moby Dick is not merely a whaling tale or sea adventure, but also a philosophic novel with symbolic meanings. Moby Dick represents God owing to his godlike characters and his awfully severe beauty. Ahab symbolizes the league human with evil. In the whaling trip, we can see his bravery and patience, as well as his madness and stubbornness. The third symbolic element is the idea of the “counterpane” that is woven throughout the story as a symbol of the world’s multiculturalism. Melville develops the symbol proving that the world is indeed a counterpane of diverse cultures, races, and environment, in which we are always connected by our humanity.

Key words: Moby Dick; Arab; God; human; counterpane

Contents

I. Introduction ………………………………………………………………...…6 II. The Symbolic Meanings of Moby Dick …………………………..…………7 1. Moby Dick’s Characteristics ……………………………………….…….7 2. Moby Dick’s Whiteness…………………………………………….…….8

3. Moby Dick’s Power and Strength ……………………...……………..…..8
III. The Symbolic Meanings of Ahab …………………………...……………....9 1. The Name Ahab ………. ……………...……………………………...…10 2. Ahab’s Madness…………………………………………………....……..10
3. Ahab’s Characters ………………………………………...……...………12 IV. The Symbolic Meanings of Counterpane ………………………………..….14 1. The Grandiose Sea…………………………………………...…….……..14 2. The Crew of the Pequod……………………………………………....….14 3. The Character Queequeg…………………………………….….…………16

V. Conclusion ………………………………………...…………………….…...18
Notes……………………………………………………………...……..…….…19 Bibliography………………………………………………………………...…...20

I. Introduction
Moby Dick is Melville’s masterpiece, but it is overlooked in its author’s time. The revival interest in Moby Dick in the 1920s is of the most dramatic reversals in all literary history. From a by-line in the textbooks, Melville becomes, overnight, one of the half-dozen major American literary figures of the 19th century. Some critics hold it the greatest American novel. They assert that there is no other character as commanding as Ahab and no other book as full of such action, religion, philosophy, detailed information about a way of life, democratic beliefs, humor, tremendous variety of style and allusions. Therefore, Moby Dick has been studied and analyzed on different points by hundreds of writers. Some writers focus on the protagonist Ahab, who is seen as the tragic hero; some writers state that all moral judgments are accompanied with tensions, paradoxes and ambiguities, and take many illustrations to prove their statement; some writers study the brotherhood of man in the novel, the theme of which is the idea of comradeship between human beings, no matter how different. However, the paper will take Melville’s symbols as the subject matter. What does make him become a master of symbolism? It relates to his life experience and culture background. Herman Melville began working on his epic novel Moby Dick in 1850, writing it primarily as a report on the whaling voyages he undertook in the 1830s and early 1840s. Many critics think that his initial book didn’t contain characters such as Ahab, Starbuck, or even Moby Dick, but the summer of 1850 changed Melville’s writing and his masterpiece. He became friend, with author Nathaniel Hawthorne and was greatly influenced by him. He also read Shakespeare and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Their influences lead to the novel Moby Dick completed and published in 1851. Although ignored by critics after its release, Moby Dick took an important place in the world literature. In Moby Dick, Melville’s imagination has achieved its great peak through employing every means and technique he can reach, among which symbolism is the most thought-provoking and well-studied one. The symbolism of the white whale can be interpreted in many ways. The paper concerns that Moby Dick is the symbol of God. Ahab, the captain of the ship, represents the league human with...
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