Reflection Of American Political Life In Moby Dick

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Despite the countless arguments from scholars of the Pequod and its crew representing an image beyond humanity, Melville provides much evidence in Moby-Dick with regard to the humanities of the crew as a reflection of American political life. The American political life and relationship to the world of the 1850s in Moby-Dick can be found within the Pequod’s crew, predominantly Captain Ahab, and their interactions with the various whaling ships throughout their voyage. The Pequod’s crew—with all its "democratic dignity"—comprises a "deputation from all the isles of the earth” (Melville 126: 132). The Pequod is a model of a democracy and American political life, embracing the different cultures from all over the world aboard the ship. However, …show more content…
In addition to this fear, Melville worries that these “isolatoes” resort to violence and dominance as we see throughout Moby-Dick.
Most of the characters aboard the Pequod who do not seem to be isolatoes are not American citizens. For example, Queequeg the “savage, uncivilized, cannibal” is able to make a deep friendship with Ishmael. Ishmael surprisingly says, “In a countryman, this sudden flame of friendship would have seemed far too premature, a thing to be much distrusted” (Melville 57). Ishmael, an American citizen, recognizes that this deep connection is unusual, so much so that Americans are suspect. As a result, Ishmael is presenting that the norm for American citizens is to keep interpersonal distance between others. This is not the case for Queequeg though. Ishmael further says, “But for Queequeg, those old rules would not apply” (57). Melville knows that this isolato trait is deep within American culture and history. Even before we meet the crew, almost everyone we encounter through Ishmael is an American and an
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At dinner, Ahab presides like a “mute” and is socially “inaccessible” (162). He does not participate in any conversation with the other mates during meals. Like Ahab, the crew does not share any relaxed, cheerful, conversation. We hear speeches from Starbuck, Stubb, and Flask, but there is little conversation between them throughout Moby¬-Dick. This is an endemic, reoccurring feature for the Pequod. For example, the doubloon is not just Ahab’s dominating scheme for the crew to follow him; rather it is also Melville’s scheme to emphasize the isolation of the crew. Melville says, “There’s another rendering now; but still one text” (474). As each crewmember looks at the doubloon, it mirrors his own story of attachments and aspirations. To Ahab, the doubloon represents his domination over others; to Starbuck, the doubloon represents religion; to Stubb, the doubloon represents antiquaries; to Flask, the doubloon represents monetary value; to Pip, the doubloon represents truth; to Melville, the doubloon represents anxiety. The crewmembers are in their isolato worlds, not speaking to anyone else about the coin. They are simply just giving speeches without any discussion afterwards. Since the Pequod’s crew is an American representation of America’s culture, consisting of “isolatoes from all the isles of the earth,” then Melville has a few concerns about America’s political life, i.e. democracy. For this

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