Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Moby Dick

by Herman Melville

by Cazi Brasga
Honors English III

I. Biographical Insights

A. The culture this great author was a part of was the time in American history where inspiring
works of literature began to emerge. It was also a time when American writers had not
completely separated its literary heritage from Europe, partly because there were successful
literary genius’ flourishing there.

B. Herman Melville was born on August 1, 1819, he was the son of Allan and Maria Melville.
During Herman’s childhood he lived in the “good” neighborhoods of New York City.
In 1832 Herman suffered tragedy when his father died after trying to cope with the stress of
debts and misfortunes. After a short time in a business house in New York City, Herman
determined he needed to go to sea.
He spent years traveling on a variety of ships, including whaling ships.

C1. Melville’s perspective on life is that God created the universe with an infinite number of
meanings and man is always trying to determine one specific meaning.
D2. The “lessons” that Melville is likely to weave into his writing are 1. An exposition on
whales and the whaling industry. 2. A commentary on the universe and human destiny. 3.
Thoughts about God and Nature.

III. Characters

B. The protagonist in this book is Ishmael, a Christian, schoolteacher and part-time sailor.
Ishmael’s role in the hunt for “Moby Dick” is to interpret what is happening. He discusses his reasons
for going to sea and interprets and looks for understanding a number of reasons for any specific action
where other characters only understand one reason.

C. It is hard to say what changes take place in Ishmael’s personality, since he is the narrator he doesn’t
talk about himself, he only talks about what he sees.

D1. Ishmael befriends Queequeg who is a cannibal. Even though Queequeg is very ugly Ishmael sees
that Queequeg has an honest heart, great honor, and a lot of courage. This friendship had a positive
influence on Ishmael’s behavior because it taught him not to judge on outward appearances.
E2. Another relationship that was very short was the relationship between Ishmael and Captain Ahab.
For the first few days aboard the Pequod Ishmael always saw Ahab in the shadows. When Ishmael finally
saw Ahab he had shivers run through his body. Ishmael felt Ahab’s attitude of determination, dedication
and hatred towards “Moby Dick” in Ahab’s appearance. This relationship was a negative relationship
because Ishmael now feared Ahab and did not want to become friends with such an evil person.
F. The conflict that Ishmael experienced was that he saw how Ahab was such an evil man and that
Ishmael was a good natured man and did not want to be corrupted by Ahab. To resolve this conflict
Ishmael stayed away from Ahab.

Representative Passage on Imagery and Figurative Language
“Yonder, by the ever-brimming goblet’s rim, the warm waves blush like wine. The gold
brow plumbs the blue. The diver sun—long dived from noon,—goes down; my soul mounts up! she
wearies with her endless hill. Is, then, the crown too heavy that I wear? this Iron Crown of Lombardy. Yet
is it bright with many a gem; I, the wearer, see not its far flashings; but darkly fell that I wear that, that
dazzlingly confounds. ‘Tis iron—that I know—not gold. ‘Tis split, too—that I feel; the jagged edge galls
me so, my brain seems to beat against the solid metal.” Chapter LV

A. The details being used to make us feel like we are watching a sunset is that it says “the warm waves
blush like wine. The gold brow plumbs the blue. The diver sun—long dived from noon,—goes down; my
soul mounts up!”

B. The similes the author uses are the comparison of the colored waves of the sunset to wine. I believe
that when the author is talking about the “Iron Crown of Lombardy” he is talking about the sun. When it
says “Is, then, the crown too heavy that I wear?” he is talking about the sunrise as the sun first starts
ascending. I think that noon is where it is says “Yet is it bright with many a gem; I, the wearer, see not its
far flashings;”. I also think that “‘Tis iron—that I know—not