Paper on Moby Dick

This essay has a total of 2256 words and 8 pages.


Moby Dick





"Moby Dick is biographic of Melville in the sense that it discloses every nook and cranny
of his imagination." (Humford 41) This paper is a psychological study of Moby Dick. Moby
Dick was written out of Melville's person experiences. Moby Dick is a story of the
adventures a person named Ishmael. Ishmael is a lonely, alienated individual who wants to
see the "watery part of the world." Moby Dick begins with the main character, Ishmael,
introducing himself with the line "Call Me Ishmael." (Melville 1) Ishmael tells the reader
about his background and creates a depressed mood for the reader. Call me Ishmael. "Some
years ago-nevermind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing
particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the
watery part of the world." (Melville 1) Ishmael tells the reader about his journeys
through various towns such as New Bedford, Nankantuket. Eventually while in Nankantuket,
Ishmael signed up for a whaling voyage on the Pequod. The Pequod was the whaling boat
Ishmael sailed on where such characters as Queequeq, Starbuck, and the captain of the
ship, Ahab, all journeyed together. Not long once at sea, the captain of the ship, Ahab
reveals his plan to hunt down a white whale named Moby Dick. Ahab was veteran sailor, a
man that had a heart of stone. Ahab had a personal grudge against Moby Dick. Moby Dick was
responsible for taking off Ahab's leg in a previous voyage. Ahab's plan was essentially an
unauthorized takeover, what the whaling company had not in mind. Ahab was very irrational
and ludicrous; his plan seals the fate for himself and the crew of the Pequod. In the
tragic ending of Moby Dick, all of the characters die except for Ishmael. Ishmael survived
Moby Dick's attack of the ship with the help of a coffin that his close friend Queequeq
built. Ishmael of Moby Dick was a special character because he closely relates to the
author's own life. There are many symbolism's between Ishmael of Moby Dick and Herman
Melville's own life. The name Ishmael can be traced back to the Bible. The Biblical story
of Ishamel is one of a rejected outcast. This "rejected outcast" can be linked to Ishmael
of Moby Dick and Herman Melville's own life. In Herman Melville's Moby Dick, Ishmael is
symbolic of the author's own life. Herman Melville's childhood played an important part in
his life. Herman Melville's childhood is evident throughout his writings. Herman
Melville's childhood was an unconventional one. There were many twists and turns that
Herman experienced. Melville was born on August 1, 1819, in New York City, the third of
eight children. His mother's family the Gansevoorts of Albany were Dutch brewers who
settled in Albany in the seventeenth century achieving the status of landed gentry. "The
Gansevoorts were solid, stable, eminent, prosperous people; the (Herman's Father's side)
Melvilles were somewhat less successful materially, possessing an unpredictable. erratic,
mercurial strain." (Edinger 6) This difference between the Melville's and Gansevoorts was
the beginning of the trouble for the Melville family. Herman's mother tried to work her
way up the social ladder by moving into bigger and better homes. While borrowing money
from the bank, her husband was spending more than he was earning. "It is my conclusion
that Maria Melville never committed herself emotionally to her husband, but remained
primarily attached to the well off Gansevoort family." (Humford 23) Allan Melville was
also attached financially to the Gansevoorts for support. There is a lot of evidence
concerning Melville's relation to his mother Maria Melville. "Apparently the older son
Gansevoort who carried the mother's maiden name was distinctly her favorite." (Edinger 7)
This was a sense of alienation the Herman Melville felt from his mother. This was one of
the first symbolists to the Biblical Ishamel. The following are a few excerpts from some
of Melville's works that show evidence of his childhood. A passage from Melville's Redburn
shows that Melville was attached to his mother, "The name of the mother was the centre of
all my hearts finest feelings." (Melville 33) The following poem that Melville wrote shows
his unreciprocated love for his mother. I made the junior feel his place Subserve the
senior, love him too; And soothe he does, and that is his saving grace But me the meek one
never can serve, Hot he, he lacks quality keen To make the mother through the soon An
envied dame of power a social queen. (Melville 211) Herman's father's side originally
Scots with connections in the peerage, were Boston merchants. Herman's father, Allan
Melville, was a merchant and importer dealing with French goods. Allan Melville's family
was not as high on the social ladder as the Gansevoorts were. "Allan Melville seems to
have been socially charming and sensitive, but basically weak, with a long standing
dependence on his father, and more especially on his wife's bother Peter Gansevoort."
(Humford 33) "Allan Melville's sons may have found a more substantial father experience
with their maternal uncle Peter Gansevoort." (Edinger 8) Hermans father was to busy with
business causing his children to find their uncle as the father figure. This was the start
for the financial collapse that later happened Allan Melville was unrealistic and had a
lot of wishful optimism. "He seems to have been a man who constantly lived beyond his
means, continually expecting a great windfall to be around the corner." (Humford 35) When
Allan Melville was borrowing money for his business, he was trying to fulfill his wife's
social ambitions by moving into larger homes. Eventually that bubble burst and Allan
Melville had fallen into a total financial and psychological collapse. Although Allan
Melville meant well, he was not managing his money properly and all of this stress took a
toll on his family The masculine figure in the family was the uncle, Peter Gansevoort. Not
long after Allan Mellville's financial collapse he died. Herman's father's death and his
father's dependence on Peter Gansevoort probably had an effect on Herman's early
psychological development. Its effects would show up in his later writings. Herman's
relatives helped the struggling family in any way they could, but they had their own
interests too. At the age of twelve Herman Melville was forced to stop his education and
go to work. Herman's older brother Gansevoort who was conventionally the successful one
owned a hat store. After a few months of job hunting with no luck Herman decided to work
at his brother's hat store. Gansevoort eventually opened a law office and later became
prominent in politics. Working at his brother's hat store Herman felt, "This is not the
way Herman doubtless felt that one's adolescence should open." (Humford 40) All of
Melville's ambitions to go to college, become an orator, and travel were stopped. "Herman
was as unambitious as a man of sixty. Such careers do not begin at a hat shop." (Humford
41) This lost and aimless feeling was similar to the feelings that the Biblical Ishamel
felt. Unable to get his bearings, not knowing what to do at the age of twenty, Herman
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