Biblical Allusions In Herman Melville's Moby Dick

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The twisting limbs of the sea toss the floating world along it’s back, allowing it to pluck from its depths light to fuel its ventures in search of the scorn of the seas. The “world” spoken of- a damned whaling ship, marked by the foreboding albatross for a watery death at the hands of wrathful God. Captained by wickedness and run by figures of the Old Testament, the ship
Herman Melville uses biblical allusions in revenge tragedy, Moby Dick to illustrate the eventual fates of the crew aboard the Pequod and flesh out each character's perception and emotions. Ishmael acts as the reader's keyhole view into the tumultuous relationships aboard the Pequod.
Despite Ishmael's constant presence and analysis of those around him, he leaves himself
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What little Ishmael reveals about himself is his name and motive for joining the Pequod. Additionally, as later seen in the narrative, Ishmael establishes himself as a man of immense intellect, and a self-taught philosopher. In the opening chapter of Moby Dick, the famous line, “Call me Ishmael” establishes his control of what the reader is to perceive. The following lines reveal that Ishmael is relaying past events to the reader. Through Ishmael's eyes humanity is painted in shades of grey, his perception of his surroundings is one of a scientist looking at a specimen from under a microscope; an outcast, separate from the world he observes. This rather bleak mindset is what draws him to the prospect of whaling - he believes that those who commit themselves to this type of work are already “lost at sea” as he is. The first biblical allusion appears in the third word of …show more content…
Like many modern heroes, Ahab’s actions exhibit extreme stubbornness, which almost immediately mark him as a future fatality. His hubris, or fatal flaw, lies in his overconfidence as it leads him to develop a strong sense of arrogance believing himself as god-like and impervious to nature's course. These characteristics make it difficult to classify Ahab as a protagonist or antagonist. Unlike many typical “heroes” Ahab's obsessive insanity is not born solely from his own mind, but rather a product of the loss of his leg by Moby Dick. While Ahab’s name is a direct allusion to the cruel King Ahab and foreshadowing of his eventual demise, ironically it is King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, who mirrors Captain Ahab’s behavior. Jezebel, upon marrying King Ahab, uses her power to hunt down all Jewish prophets believing them to be the source of all evil in the world, just as Captain Ahab views Moby Dick to be the absolute embodiment of evil. Melville’s Ahab, just as King Ahab, was a successful leader and tyrannical ruler, leading his people to wickedness influenced by the whisperings of Jezebel. This led (the originally Jewish) King Ahab to wage war upon his former religion. Captain Ahab’s stubborn will drive the plot carrying the crew along with it, many who are unwitting accomplices to Ahab’s retribution against Moby Dick. Melville

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