Disillusionment And Madness In Herman Melville's Moby Dick

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Throughout the novel Moby Dick by Herman Melville, we see a clear projection of disillusionment and madness portrayed by the protagonist. Madness and vengeance are a common theme throughout; however, these topics are counter argued with the thoughts that trail through the reader’s mind. Thoughts of sympathy and forgiveness for the maddened captain. Captain Ahab’s important role of maddening behavior reflects onto the novel as a whole by creating a tone of irony and drama.
Melville creates our main character Captain Ahab; an eccentric crazy man on the hunt for a white sperm whale that dismembered Ahab long ago. Ahab’s madness is seen early on in the book even when we never see him. The narrator explains that “...nothing above hatches was
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He speaks of the whale named Moby as if it is God. Ahab believes that not only has Moby taken a part of him, but is the center of all evil in the world, “...that the sum of all general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down…”(Melville 200). To think this highly of a clueless animal adds to the general significance of madness to the novel by suggesting that the whole voyage of the Pequod is to slay all evil by killing one single whale. Not only does Ahab speak of Moby like this, but we also catch him talking to a dead whale hung up on the ship as if it’s some mystical being. Captain Ahab respects the sea and he knows the beauty and danger that the oceans hold. The mysterious creature that lurk below and the majestic beast that he hunts. Ahab might be crazy but he undoubtedly understands the …show more content…
A specific example is when Starbuck sees Ahab sleep walking and talking completely mad. Starbuck explains that Ahab’s own madness is a power in itself, “The latter was the eternal, living principle or soul in him…” implying that it takes over Ahab like some kind of spirit (Melville 219). The crew is also particularly frightened of Ahab’s behavior. On several occasions Ahab either threatens the lives of the crew whether it be explicitly or implied, Ahab even wonders “...why dost thou not go mad” (Melville 530). The revenge that drives Ahab’s madness is extremely alarming and he risks the whole crew’s life numerous times but, by surprise the crew continues to follow “...Ahab’s quenchless feud seemed mine. With greedy ears I learned the history of that murderous monster against whom I and all the others had taken our oaths of violence and revenge” (Melville 194). The reader has to understand that Ahab has gone through traumatic events in his past, and that all of this revenge tends to lash out onto the crew. It may not be kind but, it is understandable. This revenge that has consumed him manifests the whole novel’s theme of one man’s sole focus on vengeance and how it negatively affects the relationship between the captain and his

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