English 11 CP
28 March 2015
Symbolism in Moby Dick
Symbolism is used by authors to hint at something without directly telling the reader what the author is telling the reader. It is then up to the reader to realize what the author is saying by using the symbol, and then pay attention to what happens to the symbol throughout the book. The author of Moby Dick, Herman Melville, uses multiple symbols to help the reader foreshadow what will happen later in the story. Melville also uses symbols to help the reader understand what is happening. The Pequod is the name of Captain Ahab’s ship. The name is derived from “a war-like tribe centered on the Thames River in southeastern Connecticut” (History.com staff), named the Pequot tribe. During the Pequot war, the tribe was near destroyed by settlers. The ship represents death. The ship has the bones of whales the crew killed attached to the ship. When Moby Dick attacked the ship, the entire crew died, except Ishmael, who survived. Moby Dick is the white whale that took Ahab’s leg. Due to this, Ahab devotes his life to gaining vengeance against Moby Dick. The whale represents nature and the inability to control nature. Ahab tries to capture and kill Moby Dick numerous times, and the whale escapes every time. The last time Ahab tried to kill Moby Dick, Ahab died in the process. Moby Dick also killed all of Ahab’s crew, except Ishmael. Queequeg’s coffin is another important symbol in Moby Dick. Queequeg has it built when he is dying and it becomes a symbol of death. When he recovers, the coffin becomes a symbol of life and hope. When Moby Dick destroys the Pequod, the coffin acts as a buoy, saving Ishmael’s life. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, is an example of an American classic and is known as one of the most well-known book ever written. In the book, there are many examples of symbolism that help the reader better understand the events and help the reader foreshadow what will happen later....
Cited: History.com staff. Pequot massacres begin. 2010. A+E Networks. Web. 28 March 2015.
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