Literary Devices In Moby Dick

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The Utilization of Literary Devices in the Characterization of Captain Ahab
Herman Melville’s, Moby Dick, is the story about the journeys of a group of whalers led by the fearless Captain Ahab, and their quest to help the Captain get revenge on the great White Whale that once tore off his leg. Melville himself had once been a sailor and a majority of the book was inspired by the hardships he himself had faced at sea. The book is notorious for being very long, enigmatic, and filled with sailor jargon that ends up confusing the average reader. This being said, Moby Dick, is also known for being a classic and respected piece of literature. The book explored countless themes including, vengeance, instinct, wealth, greed, death, fear and religion.
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On one hand, there is an old grizzled sailor who has been portrayed as the wise man of the crew. Ahab is a true leader and is by far the most experienced whaler on the ship. After hearing about Moby Dick, Ahab tells his crew that it was the whale that took off his leg. This is stated by Ahab when he claims, “Aye, Starbuck; aye, my hearties all round; it was Moby Dick that dismasted me; Moby Dick that brought me to this dead stump I stand on now” (Melville 174). In this quote, Ahab is telling a story of how he got one of his wounds. His ivory leg shows the reader that he is an experienced captain because it is representative of a long fought battle between the White Whale and himself. While there is a portrayal of a wise and proud sea captain, Melville juxtaposes this with the naïve zeal Ahab also possesses. Right after Ahab tells his story he goes on to state that “This is what ye have shipped for, men! to chase that white whale on both sides of land, and over all sides of earth, till he spouts black blood and rolls fin out” (Melville 174). After presenting Ahab as such an experienced leader, Melville makes a mockery of him by elaborating on a ridiculous and childish need for revenge. Such an experienced sailor would know the whale is acting out of instinct. This juxtaposition between an old sailor to his ignorant vengeance adds complexity to Ahab’s character. This comparison is used primarily to …show more content…
Herman Melville was a whaler himself and when he got back home, he chose to write about the dangers of whaling. He focused on Captain Ahab’s obsession with killing the White Whale and how his unwavering determination eventually led to his downfall. With the task of communicating what whaling was like, Melville did a very good job. He adequately explained facts about whaling and processes that occurred. He also used common themes such as greed, revenge, and death to progress the story and add complexity to the novel. In order to carry such a long story, Melville needed a dynamic character to base his story around and in order to make that character dynamic, he utilized literary devices. He detailed Captain Ahab with rich imagery and used dialect to immerse the reader in the setting and express the character’s ideas. Captain Ahab’s weathered and wise appearance was juxtaposed to his foolish quests and silly grudges. It is evident that Melville’s use of literary devices fluidly progresses and details the story of the hunt for the elusive White

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