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Religious and Philosophical Aspects in Melville's Moby Dick - Essay Example

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In the American history, Puritans, who were mainly Protestants, had championed campaigns for the regulation of worshipping activities. They were not only strict observers of religious issues, but also the moral…
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Religious and Philosophical Aspects in Melvilles Moby Dick
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Religious and Philosophical Aspects in Melville’s Moby Dick The theme of religion cuts across Melville’s Moby Dick work. In the American history, Puritans, who were mainly Protestants, had championed campaigns for the regulation of worshipping activities. They were not only strict observers of religious issues, but also the moral standards that were declining in the society. Melville views religion as a cover up that worshipper use to hide their evil activities. According to him, man is by nature evil, and perfectionist only exists in an ideal world (Melville, p.4).
Melville uses two characters, namely Ishmael and Ahab in his work. The two are secluded and remain in isolation with the sole purpose of investigating religious matters around the world. Ahab does not believe in the biblical story of creation in the Garden of Eden. Instead of having a desire for spiritual nourishment, he stays firm and confronts wickedness. The firmness is symbolized by a whale in the book (Melville; pp.178-179) Ishmael perceives Ahab as a weak man who is only after avenging for the sins he committed. Although Ahab professed Christianity, he was just a hypocrite who was only hiding in the masses. On the other hand, another character by the name Starbuck is unsure about how God should be shown respect. Human beings have weaknesses that sometimes disconnect them with their maker. In order to build a relationship, they must overcome their internal emotions and weaknesses and honor their maker. Due to the disrespect, the alluded Adam showed to the maker, he is eliminated from the universe. Unlike Ahab, Ishmael, who observed the teachings of his maker is blessed immensely (Melville, pp.153-156).
The traits demonstrated by the characters in Melville’s work are a clear revelation of his religious beliefs. He uses the Whale to symbolize the nature of God. God has supernatural powers and is both omnipresent and omnipotent. Ahab tries to go against the will of God and tries to collude with Satan. Melville is of the view that those who go against the will of God are likely to be punished severely (Melville, pp.483-484).
In the book, a Priest by the name Mapple uses Jonah in as an example of a person who went contrary to the wishes of God. Consequently, the fish swallowed him. According to the priest, we cannot honor God before we honor ourselves (Melville, pp.344-345) Melville advises that we should forego our personal desires for the sake of worshipping the Lord. Ishmael comes out as a character whom God wants human beings to be while Ahab is demonstrated as a disgrace to religion. Ahab practices idolatry which is against God’s commandments and sets his worshipping standards for himself. On the other hand, Ishmael, who is a Presbyterian, is against idolatry and stands firm (Melville, pp.40-43).
Melville’s philosophy supports the attributes given to God; all-powerful and all knowing. In the American society, people remain divided the concept of freedom and determinism. Those who subscribe to the freedom school of thought believe that a man has the freedom to choose between what is considered morally right and evil. The Puritan supports the notion and call upon implementation of strict religious laws to regulate worshipping. On the contrary, proponents of determinism believe that the fate of man was decided long before he came to earth. Man has no control of his destiny and therefore cannot be for committing what is considered evil. Proponents of freedom and determinism remain at loggerhead to date, and the debate is not likely to be soon (Melville, pp 80-90).
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Melville, Herman. Moby Dick. American Library, 1892.Print Read More
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