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Moby Dick Essay, Research Paper

The Plot


Ishmael the narrator tells how he abandoned his life in Manhattan, as a schoolteacher, for the excitement of a whaling ship. He wanted to try something new because was tired of life on land and wanted to see what the life at sea was like. So he signed onto a ship with his new friend Queequeg. Queequeg was an excellent whaler and would be a perfect guide for Ishmael. Ishmael on the other hand was never ready to go on this trip. He didn?t expect the hardship and duties that would be appointed to him. The ship that they were going on was called the Pequod. The Pequod?s captain was Ahab, who had only one goal for the ship and its mates. To kill Moby Dick who had bit off Ahab leg in his last encounter. Ever since Ahab had wanted vengeance on it.


There are lots of conflicts in this book. One of the conflicts is between Starbuck and Ahab. Starbuck thinks that Ahab is man that he is sentencing everyone to death. Starbuck all through the book tries to change Ahab?s mind about going on to kill Moby Dick, but Ahab doesn?t listen. One time Starbuck was about to murder Ahab but he didn?t. Another conflict in the book is between Ishmael and himself. Ishmael wanted to see what he really was. He wanted to know if he was truly a harpooner inside because he feels he doesn?t want to be a teacher all his life. The last and probably the most important conflict is Moby Dick versus Ahab and his men. Ahab encountered this monster three days and fought the whale every encounter. This was a tiring time for the harpooners because they were against a monster that was thousands of time bigger than they were.


The complication of this book was that Moby Dick was so huge compared to the men on the Pequod. It will be a very difficult for them to kill this whale. Something besides the magnitude of this monster that makes it even harder for them is that Moby Dick is intelligent unlike any ordinary sperm whale. He has many ways and tricks to avoid and evade the harpooners.


The climax of this story is when Ahab is face to face with Moby Dick. He is finally seeing the whale again after his last encounter with him where he lost his leg. He is back for revenge and has made something special for him. It is a special harpoon that was made from horseshoes and with it he struck it right down ?the heart of the great hated whale?.


Fedallah?s prophecy is fulfilled. Ahab dies after shooting Moby Dick with a harpoon. After Ahab dies his ship sinks and makes a huge whirlpool. The whirlpool sucks everything in it including the crew and the boat. The only person that survived was Ishmael who was earlier flung from the ship. He survived by clinging to a coffin that was originally made for his friend Queequeg. Ishmael floated in the ocean for two days and was then rescued by the Rachel, a ship that had been lost and that Ahab had left even after its please for help. And so Ishmael lived to tell the tale. As for the great white whale it lived on.


Ishmael-Ishmael was the main character and narrator of this book. He started off living in Manhattan as a young schoolteacher but felt that he needed some more excitement in his life. He decided on whaling and so he goes to New Bedford to sign up as a whaler. Ishmael is very sensitive man and who is a dynamic character. At the beginning he is a caring, sensitive man but later he goes on the verge of being like one of the crew.

Ahab-Ahab was the captain of the ship the Pequod. The Quakers who owned the ships called him ?A grand, ungodly, god-like man?. Ahab had been whaling for over forty years and of all those forty he had been on the ocean more than he had been at land. He has a wife and a son who he hardly sees because of all the whaling he does. His leg is made of ivory because it had been bit off by the monster, Moby Dick. Ahab?s goal in life is to avenge his broken leg by killing Moby Dick.

Queequeg- Queequeg is a harpooner for the Pequod and is the prince of Kokovoko, a Polynesian Island. He wants to learn about Christianity and wants to see the world. Queequeg worships an idol and uses his harpoon for a shaver. He is nobler to Ishmael than any of Ishmael?s Christian friends. He is a good friend and puts his life on the line to save others.

Starbuck- Starbuck was a 30-year-old chief mate who is sober, patient, cautious, and religious. He always speaks against what Ahab says because he knows that Ahab has gone crazy into killing Moby Dick. He thought of killing Ahab a couple times because he clearly sees that Ahab is bringing the crew into danger. Despite his strengths he is helpless in the face of the captain. He is unable to murder Ahab.

Fedallah- Fedallah is Ahab?s secret harpooner who was hidden for weeks in the Pequod?s hold. He was a Parisee, a believer in Zoroastrianism, and he prophesies a lot about the death of Ahab. Some crewmembers said that he controlled Ahab and others said that Ahab controls him.

Moby Dick- Moby Dick was a white wrinkled sperm whale, the largest, most valuable, and most feared of all creatures of the sea. He was blamed for a lot of whaling disasters around the world. This whale was the one that bit off Ahab?s leg and is the whale that Ahab wants to kill. Moby Dick is very strategic and has human-like intelligence. He symbolizes the unknown of everything through Ishmael?s eyes. Some words that the author uses to describe him are ?a snow hill in the air?. Moby is the said to be the greatest mystery of all.

This book has two different point of views. At the beginning the point of view is first person. You know this right away because the opening line says ?Call me Ishmael?. Ishmael is telling his story. You follow him to many places with him you meat Queenqueg. You see only what he sees and hear only what he hears. As the book goes on you hear Ahab and his second mate argue. After this argument you go Stubb below deck were he thinks about the argument. You go to so many places at once that you know that Ishmael could not have been at all these places at once. The point of view is changing to third person, omniscient narrator who is not directly involved in the action, but is able to go every where and tell the story. Some chapters do go back to Ishmael telling you stuff, but then some chapters are the omniscient narrator. The way you can tell is that at certain times you know that Ishmael couldn?t have witnessed the situation. Having the book be two different point of views gives the story the structure that it needs from first person and as the story get more complex the third person gives the flexibility to be at more places and tell more.

This book has many themes. Two of the themes I got from it were friendship and selfishness. Queequeg was such a good friend to everyone he put others in front of himself. He stood up for Ishmael. After rescuing people that had been rude to him he says, ?We cannibals must help these Christians?. This shows his kindness to everyone. Ahab was very selfish. All he wanted to do was hunt Moby. He didn?t even care about getting any profit from the trip. The other men like Starbuck needed the money to support their families. Ahab didn?t take that into consideration at all even though he had a family of his own.

The major setting of this book was Pequod. This was a ship that was owned by two Quaker men that was decorated with whalebones. It wasn?t the greatest ship, Ishmael said that it was dirty, old fashion, and weather beaten. It says in the book that the masts were as stiff as ?the spines of the three old kings of Cologne?. It was made from American wood. Another setting was the sea. The sea is where the whales were and is what the Pequod sailed in. It was calm mostly except for the one time when it was very stormy. The last setting I?m going to talk about it the Spouter Inn. This is where Ishmael spent the night and it where he met Queegueg. They had to sleep in the same bed because the bed was for two.

This book was an ok book. I didn?t like it I didn?t hate it. I thought the beginning was boring because there really wasn?t a lot of action. As the book went on it got more interesting. My favorite part is the last part when Ahab dies and everything is sucked into the whirlpool except Ishmael. It just goes to show you that little people shouldn?t be trying to kill such big thing because they are just going to die trying to do it. One thing that would have made this book better is that the author made it shorter. This book was way too long. Except for the length it was an excellent book. I recommend it to any of those people who like to read books for hobbies.

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