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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Literature Analysis #2

Moby Dick by, Herman Melville

1. Briefly summarize the plot of the novel you read.

Our intrepid narrator, is a former schoolteacher famously called Ishmael, he signs up as a sailor on a whaling voyage to cure a bout of depression. On his way to find a ship in Nantucket, he meets Queequeg, a heavily tattooed South Sea Island harpooner just returned from his latest whaling trip. Ishmael and Queequeg become best buds and roommates almost immediately. Together, they sign up for a voyage on the Pequod, which is just about to start on a three-year expedition to hunt sperm whales.Just when Ishmael’s curiosity about Ahab has reached a fever pitch, Ahab starts appearing on deck – and we find out that he’s missing one leg. When Starbuck asks if it was Moby Dick, the famous White Whale, that took off his leg, Ahab admits that it was and forces the entire crew to swear that they will help him hunt Moby Dick to the ends of the earth and take revenge for his injury.Ishmael takes advantage of this lull in plot advancement to give the reader lots of contemporary background information about whale biology, the whaling industry, and sea voyages.Finally, just when we think the novel’s going to end without ever seeing this famous White Whale, Ahab sights him and the chase is on. For three days, Ahab pursues Moby Dick, sending whaling boat after whaling boat after him – only to see each one wrecked by the indomitable whale. Finally, at the end of the third day, the White Whale attacks the ship itself, and the Pequod goes down with all hands. The only survivor of the destruction is Ishmael, who lives to tell the tale because he’s clinging to the coffin built for his pal Queequeg when the harpooner seemed likely to die of a fever.

2. Succinctly describe the theme of the novel. Avoid cliches.

An assumption that I had that runs through Moby Dick is that Ahab's quest against the great whale is a blasphemous activity, even apart from the consequences that it has upon its crew.The idea that Ahab's quest for Moby Dick is an act of defiance toward God assuming that Ahab is omnipotent first occurs before Ahab is even introduced during Father Mapple's sermon. The lesson of the sermon, which concerns the story of Jonah and the whale, is to warn against the blasphemous idea that a ship can carry a man into regions where God does not reign.Nevertheless, a more disturbing type of blasphemy also emerges during the course of the novel in which Ahab does not merely believe himself omnipotent, but aligns himself with the devil during his quest.

3. Describe the author's tone. Include three excerpts that illustrate your point(s).

The tone in Moby-Dick is thoughtful, with a dash of humor and affection. The tone Ishmael often adopts when he’s considering scenes of whaling and sailing that are dear to his hear. We find this tone in the very first paragraph of the novel. "Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can." (1.1) But this flippant, affectionate, self-mocking humor that Melville uses when discussing the details of a seafaring life can turn into bitter sarcasm at a moment’s notice."The urbane activity with which a man receives money is really marvelous considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!" (1.10)Both the gentler humor and the scathing sarcasm can disappear when Melville wants to play up the literary qualities and symbolic register of Moby-Dick.

4. Describe five literary elements/techniques you observed that strengthen your understanding of the theme and/or your sense of the tone. Include three excerpts (for each element) that will help your reader understand each one.

page 53, chapter 11
"..condensed, confidential, comfortableness..."
Shows how being held close allows you to feel comfortable just like Ismael felt comfortable sitting all huddled up in his bed with his head against his knees.
pg. 92, 3rd paragraph down
This word is repeated to emphasize how Charity over-packs the ship and how overcautious she is. It also shows that a lot of the things on the ship are luxuries, not necessities. It gives us some insight on Charity.
"the dancing white water"
This is referring to the white waves that come crashing down while the crew is trying to catch a sperm whale. A fight is going on between the whale and the ship, making waves and causing the water to be rough an choppy. However, the water is seen as lovely and dancing because after all of the work the crew succeeds in catching the whale
"ball of free will dropped from my hand"
This represents Ishmael's loss of free will. the ball represents free will. it shows how, on the Pequod, everyone has the same goals and they do not think for themselves, especially in relation to catching Moby Dick.
"mysterious shadows" "creeping" "dim dawn"
These words are creating a creepy and scary mood. it cause s the reader to be cautious and is foreshadowing a terrible event.

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