Herman Melville Moby-Dick, Captain Ahab

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Herman Melville Moby-Dick, Captain Ahab

The Evil and His Vengeance
Moby-Dick is the story of the fateful voyage of Pequod, a whaling ship commanded by the compelling, mysterious figure Captain Ahab, magnificent in his strengths and weaknesses. In many respects Melville portrays Ahab as barely human, barely governed by human mores and conventions and nearly entirely subject to his own obsession with Moby-Dick. Ahab is in some ways a machine, unaffected by human appetites and without recognizable emotion. He claims himself a god over the Pequod, but instead he may be a satanic figure through his somewhat blasphemous quest against the white whale. "Like the Transcendentalists, Ahab seeks the spiritual reality behind experience, but what he finds turns the transcendentalist vision upside down: not a benevolent universe that answers humanity's spiritual needs but one that is inscrutable and actively hostile" (248). He put himself into examination the truth – the meaning of existence.
Symbolically, Ahab's appearance has caused the sailors to be apprehensive about the captain. Ishmael describes his feeling about Ahab, "He looked like a man cut away from the stake when the fire has overrunningly wasted all the limbs without consuming them or taking away one particle from their compacted ages robustness" (233). Ishmael's words say that Ahab was not a charming man. "…his gray hairs, tawny scorched face and neck, …you saw a slender rodlike mark, lividly whitish" (232). The most demonstrative symbol or element on his appearance was his "barbaric white leg upon which he partly stood…, this ivory leg had at sea been fashioned from the polished bone of the sperm whale's jaw" (233). Ishmael keeps staring at Ahab whose gestures and expressions gives him the feeling of someone who likes his life, but who is too occupied by the vengeance, that madness rules over him. "Nothing, but the dead wintry bleakness of the sea had then kept him so secluded" (233). The first view of the Captain Ahab shows him to be a fearful, almost inhuman, monster dedicated to some devious desires. Melville makes Ahab a satanic figure. Ahab is not the only one character who has let evil live in him. Ahab views Moby-Dick as the symbol of a great evil to him. Eventually, Melville makes it clear that Moby-Dick is capable of the greatest violence. Melville appoints this character even more obscure than Ahab's.

On the other hand, the whiteness of the whale, as he suggest, has come to man both tranquility and good, as well as terror and evil. So, when we talk about Ahab and Moby-Dick, we must realize that in many cases we speak not of black as an evil and white as the good, but something in the middle. Ahab gives credit for his maleficent self to Moby-Dick. Ahab is a character who seeks to destroy evil with evil. Melville seems to say in portraying this great character, that Ahab's individualism was selfish and greedy and evil rather than selfless and in some degree, helpful to his fellow men. It is seen both in his speaking to his crew and one passion that makes him to see only one victory over everything, what is something like engine that makes him to stay alive – "Death to Moby-Dick!" (239)… Vengeance and evil are the most powerful weapons in this case…

Works Cited
Harcout Brace Jovanovich, Inc. Adventure in American Literature. Orlando, FL 32887,
Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. Bantam Classic, NY: Bantam Books, 1981
Straud, John. Moby-Dick and Melville's Vexed Romanticism. American Transcendental
Quarterly 6, 1992: 279-293.

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