Ahab in Moby Dick

Topics: God, Elijah Pages: 3 (995 words) Published: June 2, 2005
Although Ahab's insanity appears to be what shuts him off from humanity, in reality it is what makes him human. Ahab desperately wants to be freed from his obsession – to not have to rely upon it to feel. It is because Ahab is no longer in control of his obsession that the reader eventually discovers that besides what the book originally seems to insinuate, Ahab is only human. The first few times that Ahab is introduced to the reader and to his crew, he appears to be inhuman. Even his description when he first appears on deck states that he "seemed made of solid bronze" (Melville 117). To compare him to a statue is to distance him from humanity – he is not a breathing, emotional being. However, as the book continues, it becomes blatantly obvious that Ahab hates his obsession and is greatly disturbed by the fact that he is obsessed. This self-hatred makes Ahab human because he knows that he is leading himself to his death and yet he is so possessed by his obsession that he can do nothing to stop it. Every human being can relate to this feeling, for at one point or another, everyone feels like they have lost control. Though Ahab may be an extreme example, he is simply a strong representation of a characteristic human sentiment. This sentiment, this anxiety over lack of control is most certainly connected to his leg. By losing his leg, Ahab has lost a part of himself and seeks Moby Dick to avenge this loss. He is not able to perceive that the leg is simply a physical part, he feels that by losing a part of his body he has lost a part of himself. This frustration of being incomplete is expressed in his actions. How he acts towards his crew, for example, appears to be out of a jealously – they are whole and he is not. For this reason, he feels that he must make up for it by being stronger and more powerful than they are. He tries to control the men, for if he can control them then he is greater than they are, though they are complete and he is not. Although Ahab...
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