A Sense Of Mystery For The Movie, Benito Cereno, By Herman Melville

1094 Words Mar 1st, 2016 5 Pages
In Herman Melville’s novella, Benito Cereno, the repeated use of colors and masks in descriptions in the story mirror the struggle that both Captain Delano and the reader go through to understand the power dynamic on the San Dominick. The masks he describes are used to create a sense of mystery for the readers. Melville’s frequent usage of white, black, and grey reflects the dynamic on the ship subtly, as to not tip off the first time reader to what is actually happening, but subconsciously leading them to the truth.
The first motif that Melville explores is his use of colors throughout the novella, which foreshadow events at the end of the story. On the first page of the novella, Melville is describing the setting and he says, “The morning was one peculiar to that coast. Everything was mute and calm; everything gray...The sky seemed a grey mantle. Flights of troubled gray fowl, kith and kin with flights of troubled gray vapors among which they were mixed, skimmed low and fitfully over the waters, as swallows over meadows before storms” (164). His repeated use of the word “gray” creates an ominous tone for the reader. The phrase, “flights of troubled gray fowl, kith and kin with flights of troubled gray vapors,” conveys that the gray birds and the gray water vapor are hard to differentiate from each other and are mixing together in the eyes of Captain Delano. And when Delano is shielded from being able to see what is actually happening it creates an uncertainty of what to…

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