Two Perspectives Of Herman Melville's Moby Dick

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Most interpretations of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick have a central focus on the evolution of Captain Ahab’s characterization. However, while Ahab’s journey offers a multitude of allegorical insight, other remarkable characters are disregarded by researchers in favor of Captain Ahab. One such character is the narrator of the story, Ishmael. He is depicted as only a passive viewer in the tale of Ahab and the white whale, but Ishmael has his own development in Moby Dick. Indeed, Ishmael grows as he dredges through the ambiguity of life, portrayed to him through contrasting elements. Ishmael’s journey is influenced both spiritually and mentally as he tries to discern the dichotomy that is presented to him through his experiences and the characters …show more content…
In fact, historian Brandy Schillace indicates the two different perspectives that they embody in this quote, “Loved and hated almost from the first, Moby Dick has become, in latter years, most primarily considered from two perspectives: The Religious Quest and the Man’s Quest…” (2012) Her statement emphasizes that these are two very distinct characters with Mapple’s religious aspect and Ahab’s quest against the whale. However, these men do not only represent the varying context between religion and humanity. Each represents either truth or falsehood, a dichotomy that Ishmael must determine. A deeper consideration of chapter 9 in Moby Dick reveals a parallel between Father Mapple and truth. “Delight is to him, who gives no quarter of the truth, and kills, burns, and destroys all sin though he pluck it out from under the robes of Senators and Judges.” (Melville 42) With his sermon, Mapple is urging people to search below the surface of falsehood in the world to uncover the truth beneath. Mapple believes that this will help people to follow God’s will and better themselves. Alternatively, in chapter 36, “The Quaterdeck”, Captain Ahab states a different method of piercing through the fabrication of the surface world. “If a man will strike, strike through the mask! How can a prisoner reach …show more content…
For this reason, many historians and English majors have dedicated most of their time and effort into studying and interpreting this novel, but they often get sidetracked by the prominence of Captain Ahab’s inner journey. It is important that others are not sidetracked for this reason because they each have a significant message to portray the audience. Ishmael is an excellent example of underappreciated character in Moby Dick because he also is fundamentally changed from his experience on the Pequod. He is able to evolve considerably as he observes the dichotomies life presents him with. Life presents him with the truth and falsehood, good and evil, and comradery and evil influences throughout his voyage. When he understands and distinguishes these dialectics, Ishmael gains both spiritual and mental

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