The Themes Of Characters In Herman Melville's Moby Dick

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Throughout his novel, Moby Dick, Herman Melville constantly changes the focus of the story from chapter-to-chapter. Often, Melville will devote an entire chapter to the thoughts or actions of a specific character. Within these chapters there is typically a large speech or monologue, or the internal thoughts of a single character. Two specific examples of this type of chapter are Chapter 36 “The Quarter-deck” and Chapter 42 “The Whiteness of the Whale.” Each of these chapters are extremely significant and meaningful even outside their advancement of the plot. The first is evidence of Captain Ahab’s powerful persuasive abilities and their effects on his crew, while the second provides Ishmael with a platform to describe his own academic insight …show more content…
He does so through a grandiose speech in which he rallies almost the entire crew to his cause through a number of persuasive techniques. Ahab begins his speech by asking the crew basic questions about whaling, such as: “What do ye do when ye see a whale?”, “And what do ye do next?”, and “And what tune is it ye pull to, men?” (180). These questions helped to unify the crew under their common interest of whaling and resulted in a “hearty animation” (180). This is Ahab’s first step in convincing his crew to hunt the White Whale. By unifying and exciting the crew, they will become more open to Ahab’s true purpose for this voyage. Immediately following this, Ahab reveals his desire to kill the White Whale and offers an ounce of gold to the first man to spot it. This use of bribery offers the crew an incentive to search for the whale and establishes the crew’s initial interest in Ahab’s cause. Later in the chapter, Starbuck pieces together that this whale−now being referred to as Moby Dick−was the whale that took Ahab’s leg, and almost his life. Ahab takes this opportunity to inject pathos into his speech by passionately proclaiming that Moby Dick “made a poor pegging lubber of me for ever and a day!” (182). He furthers this emotionally charged moment as he declares that he will “chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the …show more content…
In the case of chapter 36, Ahab gives a grand speech to his entire crew in order to convince them to hunt Moby Dick. In chapter 42, Ishmael devotes the chapter to discussing his own interpretation of the color white. Each chapter has unique rhetorical qualities, the persuasive techniques and rhetorical figures in chapter 36 and the academic writing style of chapter 42, that strengthen the message of the character the chapter is

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