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Good And Evil- Moby Dick Essay, Research Paper

Take Home Essay I, 2

Rebecca Ison

In Melville’s Moby-Dick, Queegueg and Ahab show distinction between good and evil through the treatment of others, themselves and situations. Although Queequeg is a pagan, he has more Christian attributes than even the most devout Christians on the Pequod. Ahab is not the person that everyone would expect to be the most iniquitous character of them all. Most would say that Moby Dick himself personifies evil however, he has innocent characteristics about him. This is unfair, as is calling Queequeg a savage or saying that Ahab is civilized.

When Queequeg is first introduced we see a savage cannibalistic beast, returning from selling heads on the streets with a tomahawk pipe in hand. We later see a man who, in chapter eight saves the “shivering greenhorn” (Melville 65) that insulted him then fell overboard. Queequeg did not have to jump into the sea and save the man, he could have ignored him like many would. He also cuts Tashtego from the whale he is caught beneath. He is not a hypocrite like he observed many Christians to be. He is not afraid of death either like many Christians are. When it was supposedly time for him to die from his fever in chapter 110, he tells about wanting to be buried like his ancestors, floating down a river in a canoe. The carpenter made him a coffin and Queequeg tested the comfort of the coffin and responded “ “Rarmai” (It will do; it is easy)” (Melville 440). Queequeg lived in a misnomer throughout Moby-Dick because he is not the savage that everyone knows him as, but as a person with Christian attitudes in the body of a savage cannibal.

Ahab is the absolute evil in the book. The only time in the entire book that there is an expression of his good qualities is in chapter 29, where we are shown that there are few time the little humanitarianism still in him shows through. One time was when he was walking around the decks, “times like these he usually abstained from patrolling the quarter-deck,” (Melville 122) and causing the crew grief. Chapter 28 speaks of all humanity being removed of him. His evil is shown mainly through his revenge filled efforts to kill the white whale, which adds to his madness. He has Perth, the blacksmith, melt his razors to make the barbs for his harpoon. He then asks Queequeg, Tashtego and Dagoo to give their pagan blood to baptize his harpoon in. Worst of all he baptizes his sea sword by “Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli” (Mellville 448) or “I do not baptize you in the name of the father, but in the name of the devil.” He later expresses his belief in a darker faith but still sees Moby Dick as the ultimate evil and the prize.

Moby Dick is not the personification of evil by any means. Granted he did kill every man but Ishmael on the Pequod, and severly maimed Ahab, but couldn’t it all be called self-defense? If there were 3 little boats filled with men, 1/18 of your size, constantly stabbing you with long sharp sticks, wouldn’t you fight back? The whale shouldn’t just let the humans kill without a fight, like any other animal would. If anything, Moby Dick is the victim, not the murderer.

Moby Dick is not the normal teacher fabricated “Christ Figure” saturated novel. Instead, it is a book with real Biblical reference and examples such as the forces between good and evil. It is demonstrated through Queequegs kindness and Ahabs insanity which cost the lives of most of the men of the Pequod.


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