Nobody downloaded yet

Literary analysis of Moby Dick - Essay Example

Comments (0) Cite this document
Summary
Although Melville was not deeply read in science, Moby-Dick (1851) prophetically details the great scientific upheaval of 1859: the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. A primary subtext of Melville's novel is the passing of pre-Darwinian, anthropocentric thought, espoused by Ahab, and the inauguration of a version of Darwin's more ecological evolution, proffered by Ishmael (Buchholz 50)…
Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing
GRAB THE BEST PAPER92% of users find it useful
Literary analysis of Moby Dick
Read TextPreview

Extract of sample "Literary analysis of Moby Dick"

Download file to see previous pages The rise of Ishmael at the novel's close points to an alternative world, one controlled more by the forces of nature than by humans, one in which the civilized is not fundamentally different from the savage and the animal, one guided not by a linear plan but, to use Darwin's famous phrase, by an "inextricable web of affinities" (Buchholz 50). Indeed, Moby-Dick itself exhibits the principle of natural selection, for it suggests that species like Ahab are not adapted for survival and therefore face extinction while variations like Ishmael are well suited to thrive and flourish.
This essay treats Moby-Dick as an allegory signifying the rise of Darwin and the consequent dethroning of man, the victory of evolution over essentialism. The novel constitutes a prophetic parable of what Freud called the second great blow to man's sense of domination (after the astronomy of Copernicus and before Freud's own psychoanalysis): the emergence of the evolutionary theory that "put an end to this presumption on the part of man" by showing that "man is not a being different from the animals or superior to them; he is himself of animal descent, being more closely related to some species and more distantly to others" (cited in Ancona 17). Certainly Ahab instances a tension between both versions of the pre-Darwinian chain: the spatial and the temporal. On the one hand, he yearns for a static scale of nature, in which hierarchically grouped animals and men are utterly fated to be what they are, moving with the regularity of machines. On the other, he wishes for himself to progress, to evolve, to the very top of the chain, from which place he will hold the other species below him. From either position, he maintains, violently, the shared assumptions of both pre-Darwinian chains of being: anthropocentrism, hierarchy, design (Ancona 16). Ahab's ship is a pre-Darwinian world in miniature; it is ordered by a chain of being, seemingly static and spatial. Ahab maintains firm control of his ship's hierarchy, reaching from the bottom, the lowly crew, to the savage harpooners, to the third, second, and first mates, to Ahab himself at the top. In the "Knights and Squires" chapters, Melville details a hierarchy of men ordered by degrees of consciousness, the ability for reflection (Ancona 15). Closest to the hyper-reflective Ahab is the first mate Starbuck, pious, speculative, prudent; next is Stubb, the second mate, utterly carefree, with no interest in abstract thought; under him is Flask, the third mate, ignorant, virtually unconscious, utterly indifferent to the mysteries of whaling. Beneath these mates are the harpooners, likewise divided into hierarchy (Buchholz 51). Ahab is well aware of this hierarchy and sees his job as keeping it in place. Indeed, his first words in the novel work to reinforce the hierarchy he heads. After Stubb has hinted to Ahab that he would like him to tread more softly around the deck while others are trying to sleep, Ahab responds by forcefully reminding Stubb of his place: "Down, dog, and kennel" (127). The Captain knows that he is "above the common," having been in colleges and among cannibals (79), that his command ranges from the institutions of civilization to the habitats of the uncivilized. At the same time, he intimates a more temporal chain of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
Cite this document
  • APA
  • MLA
  • CHICAGO
(“Literary analysis of Moby Dick Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 750 words”, n.d.)
Literary analysis of Moby Dick Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 750 words. Retrieved from https://studentshare.org/miscellaneous/1525500-literary-analysis-of-moby-dick
(Literary Analysis of Moby Dick Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 750 Words)
Literary Analysis of Moby Dick Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 750 Words. https://studentshare.org/miscellaneous/1525500-literary-analysis-of-moby-dick.
“Literary Analysis of Moby Dick Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 750 Words”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/miscellaneous/1525500-literary-analysis-of-moby-dick.
  • Cited: 0 times
Comments (0)
Click to create a comment or rate a document

CHECK THESE SAMPLES OF Literary analysis of Moby Dick

Symbolism of Moby Dick based on outline provided

...Slavery in Moby Dick One should understand that Melville’s standpoint regarding slavery can be felt in this work. Firstly, the labor system in Pequod is very much similar to slavery in terms of punishment, peril, cruelty, and force (Pettey 31). It can easily be compared to the laborers and the American army during the building of canals and railways in the 1850s (Robertson-Lorant 381). Melville hints of the horrible effects of abuse of power and slavery in this work. What Ahab wants are means to pursue his goals, using the crew in the ship to serve his aims (Pettey 33-4). With the White Whale being alluded to the greatness of Christianity --- Ahab being part of this whale --- this could be...
1 Pages(250 words)Essay

Moby Dick

...this quotation, Melville gives an insight to the related terror that crude action had on the people on land. He literary equates it to the sperm whale that consumed all, including the seemingly superior species of animals. In the same manner, the vices on land would consume all people without bias. Conclusion Melville’s Moby Dick is an interesting book that presents the life of the sailors and the various superstitions and beliefs that they have. The above analysis of chapter 41 of the book reveals that the main theme in the chapter is folly and superstition, which is displayed by all the characters in the sea. The analysis also discusses the...
3 Pages(750 words)Essay

Otherness in Moby Dick

... Otherness in Moby Dick Fiction is often mistaken as being synonymous with fantasy with some reason. Itis defined as “an imaginative creation or a pretense that does not represent actuality but has been invented” or “a literary work whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact” (“Fiction”, 2000). However, the underlying unifying principle of quality literature is its ability to focus on fundamental and timeless human concerns, even when we aren't especially keen on recognizing these concerns. Because choices are based upon a familiar theme, such as love, kindness or what it means to be human, works of fiction are able to transcend time, space and, on occasion, the need for scientific reality... . The...
3 Pages(750 words)Essay

Literary Analysis

...English, Book Report/Review Topic: Literary analysis: Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway In “Hills Like White Elephants,” Ernest Hemingway creates character development through actions and dialogues instead of descriptions and allegories. The time-limit of the story is short, but it throws light on a profound issue. Conversations hold the mirror as for the mindset of the people involved in the story. The setting of the story is in Spain around in 1927 and the place is a bar in s train station. A man and a woman, the two main characters in the story, are engaged in a conversation as they have drinks at the bar. The topic of their serious discussion is not stated explicitly but one can gather...
3 Pages(750 words)Book Report/Review

Jaws & Moby Dick- Difference between the Literature and the Trivial

...of the English of the Concerned 13 January Jaws & Moby Dick- Difference between the Literature and the Trivial In abroad context, literature could mean anything that a person could consider a written text to be. In that context, one of the definitions of literature furnished by The Free Online Dictionary is, “imaginative or creative writing, especially of recognized artistic value (The Free Online Dictionary 1).” However, to grasp the true meaning of literature as per this or any other such definition will be utterly naive and simplistic. This realization eventually opens us up to the question as to what is literariness, or what makes a body of literature to be characterized as...
3 Pages(750 words)Essay

Novel Moby Dick

...The Tie That Binds The Novel Moby Dick tackles one of the most popular social issues during the early 19th century. It was during this time thatEuropeans were "discovering" lands for the new world. As they conquer lands the issue of the civilized versus the uncivilized man was being brought into perspective. The thesis of literature pieces during that time, (like Pocahontas, Mowgli the Jungle boy and Tarzan), dealt with how the uncivilized man humanizes the civilized man. But the relationship does not last for the uncivilized man has no place in the world of civilized society. He returns home never to set foot in the distant land of the civilized. In this novel Ishmael did not feel sympathy or...
3 Pages(750 words)Book Report/Review

Men, Friendship and Companionship in Moby Dick by Herman Melville

.... Interestingly however, this last scene can lend itself to quite a contrasting interpretation too: Yet utterly alone as he is at the end of the book, floating on the Pacific Ocean, he manages, buoyed up on a coffin that magically serves as his life-buoy, to give us the impression that life itself can be honestly confronted only in the loneliness of each human heart.3 End Notes 1. Melville, Herman. Moby Dick, 1851, http://www.americanliterature.com/md/MD10.HTML (accessed May 14, 2006) 2. Martin, Robert K. Hero, Captain, and Stranger: Male Friendship, Social Critique, and Literary Form in the Sea Novels of Herman Melville, University of North Carolina Press,...
7 Pages(1750 words)Essay

Moby Dick

...Running Head: MOBY DICK Moby Dick [The [The of the Moby Dick Thesis ment In Herman Melville's novel, Moby Dick, there are certain events and situations which are related to the plot and the characters and these events and situations signal things to come or happen in future. Broadly speaking, these events and situations represent foreshadowing devices in prospective course of action of the novel. Introduction A man's life can be exceptionally different according to his acceptance of morals. Taking place in the 1800s, Herman Melville's classic novel, Moby Dick, introduced...
4 Pages(1000 words)Essay

Moby Dick, Melville 9780142000083 (Penguin anniversary edition)

...Book Review: Moby Dick Book and background The book is about sea voyages written by Herman Melville. The isa son to Maria Gansevoort Melville and Allan Melville both American natives. Herman was born in New York and was involved in the family business of importing foreign goods. After the death of his parents, he pursued formal education and became an elementary teacher. Herman later became a newspaper reporter where he gained most of his book reading and writing skills. His interests of becoming a merchant sailor were attained during his first voyage to Liverpool. His main hobby was reading novels during the voyages, and it led to his literature acumen that he used to write his books. His experiences...
4 Pages(1000 words)Book Report/Review

Religious and Philosophical Aspects in Melville's Moby Dick

...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...
2 Pages(500 words)Essay
sponsored ads
We use cookies to create the best experience for you. Keep on browsing if you are OK with that, or find out how to manage cookies.

Let us find you another Essay on topic Literary analysis of Moby Dick for FREE!

Contact Us