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Moby Dick By Herman Melville (1819 – 1891) Essay, Research Paper

Moby Dick, or, The White Whale is a book

of amazing depth. It can be read on several levels: for over a century

it has captivated young readers, naturalists, historians and literary scholars

alike. On the surface, it is both an adventure story set upon the high

seas and a compendium of information about whales and the whaling industry.

But the reader who searches more deeply discovers both a complex psychological

study and a powerful allegory dealing with the archetypes of good and evil

struggling together within the tenets of eighteenth-century Calvinism.

Melville wrestles in all his works with

man’s place in the cosmos, endeavoring to expose the unseen forces of the

universe and the effects of these forces on man. In Moby Dick, he recognizes

the power of both God and the Devil, and strains to comprehend their invisible


The great white whale symbolizes evil;

however, Ahab’s obsession to destroy the whale becomes an even darker manifestation

of evil. Thus, Melville reveals, with unerring skill and passion, a dilemma

that has plagued men and women since the garden of Eden.

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