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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Mobey Dick - 1448 words
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Herman Melville's Moby Dick is a book which can be read as a general metaphor for the battle between the evil powers of the Devil versus the divine powers of God and Jesus, both try to obtain the souls of mankind in order to assist in each other's destruction. In this metaphor, the Devil is shown through the person of Captain Ahab, God becomes nature, Jesus is seen as the White Whale, and the representation of mankind is the crew. The voyage of the Pequod, therefore, is a representation of a similar voyage of mankind on earth, until the death of Jesus, during the whole thing the influences of these three "supernatural forces" are connected. Thus, the basis of this idea is that in the plot of Melville's book, there are also peeks of the 'plot' of the Bible. 'As they narrated to each other their unholy adventures, their tales of terror told in words of mirth; as their uncivilized laughter forked upwards out of them, like the flames from the furnace; as to and from, in their front, the harpooners wildly gesticulated with their huge pronged forks and dippers; as the wind howled on, and the sea leaped, and the ship groaned and dived, and yet steadfastly shot her red hell further and further into the blackness of the sea and the night, and scornfully champed the white bone in her mouth, and viciously spat round her on all sides; then the rushing Pequod, freighted with savages, and laden with fire, and burning a corpse, and plunging into that blackness of darkness, seemed the material counterpart of her monomaniac commander's soul.' (p.463) Based on the developed metaphor, the quote above can be seen as showing the role of Ahab as the sign of the Devil, within Moby Dick.
The entire passage shows the effects of his manipulation with the crew. The words such as, 'flames,' 'blackness,' 'howled,' and of course, 'huge pronged forks' turn the Pequod into a satanic representation of hell itself. Thus, the influence of the hellish commander can easily be seen upon the innocent men, whose only mistake was failing to see the true warning behind mad Ahab's mission. This notion of 'savageness' suggests not only a lack of religious morality, but also a dislike of it. Thus, the men are fully 'unholy' as they stand on board a ship that is 'laden with fire, and burning a corpse, and plunging into the blackness of darkness.' All of this momentum built up by the rushing of the ship towards some unknown goal peeks in the last statement of the passage, where the reader realizes that the physical aspects of the crew are exaggerated, only to describe something much more sinister - the evil soul of Ahab himself. 'The hand of fate had snatched all their souls, and by the stirring perils of the previous day; the rack of the past night's suspense; the fixed, unfearing, blind, reckless way in which their wild craft went plunging towards its flying mark; by all these things, their hearts were bowled along
The wind that made great bellied sails, and rushed the vessel on by arms invisible as irresistible; this seemed the symbol of that unseen agency which so enslaved them to the race,' (p.606)Relating to the metaphor, this passage can be viewed as giving the possibility of God as symbolized through the medium of nature in Moby Dick. The 'wind", thought about in this sense, is an 'unseen agency' of the motivation of God, which leads men's souls to the right paths. However, it is not a representational term found just in Melville's book. This 'wind' appears as an indication of God in the opening lines of the book of Genesis, and can also represented when God breathes life into man. Another similarity between the Biblical representation of God and this passage is shown through the thought of arms. Just as God acts in the Bible by stretching out his right arm and commanding good or bad upon the human race, so too does the wind work by 'arms invisible as irresistible,' so he could control the fate of the crew on board the Pequod.
The 'hand of fate,' therefore, seems to determine the direction of their hearts. 'Forced into familiarity, then, with such prodigies as these; and knowing that after repeated, intrepid assaults, the White Whale had escaped alive; it cannot but much matter of surprise that some whalemen should go still further in their superstitions; declaring Moby Dick not only ubiquitous, but immortal (for immortality is but ubiquity in time); that though groves of spears should be planted in his flanks, he would still swim away unharmed; or if indeed he should ever be made to spout thick blood, such a sight would be but a ghastly deception; for again in unensanguined billows hundreds of leagues ways, his unsullied jet would once more be seen.' (P.198)Moby Dick, the great White Whale, is seen through a leap of faith by the whalemen in this passage as being an immortal entity. It isn't a far step from this point and the developed metaphor, which hints the idea that Moby Dick could be a metaphorical representation for Jesus Christ. The hidden suggestions in this passage give supporting evidence for a strong interpretation. Firstly, just the indication of Moby Dick as the 'White Whale' is important. Different from any other whale in the ocean, Moby Dick is white, a color which quickly gives the whale a heavenly aspect.
The color white is traditionally seen as a symbol for the aspects of holiness and pureness. The figures of the divine always appear robed in white, and Jesus, being divine as well as human, is comparable with this color also. Therefore, the clothes of Jesus, during the transformation in the Gospel of Matthew, become, 'as white as the light.' (Matt. 17:2) Also, the fact that Melville purposely capitalizes the term 'White Whale' seems to give the idea of a religious and important interpretation. '..it is a thing most sorrowful, nay, shocking, to expose the fall of valor in the soul. Men may seem detestable as joint stock-companies and nations; knaves, fools, and murderers there may be; men many have mean and meager faces; and glowing creature, that over any ignominious blemish in him all his fellows should run to throw their costliest robes.
That immaculate manliness we feel within ourselves, so far within us, that it remains intact though all the outer character seem gone; bleeds with keenest anguish at the undraped spectacle of a valor-ruined man. Nor can piety itself, at such a shameful sight, completely stifle her upbraidings against the permitting stars.' (p.126)The main issue in this complex passage deals in the fall of a man's soul from courage to destruction. In the boundaries of the developed metaphor, this general idea might be used to the entire crew of the Pequod, leaving out Ishmael, who does not fall. The crew, abandoned or not, seems to take on large proportions in Moby Dick, and become symbols for mankind in general. Through this idea, this passage can be looked at as connected with to the crew of the Pequod and mankind itself. In conclusion, the voyage of the Pequod itself can simply be seen, through the developed metaphor, as the Devil's complex manipulations of the crew of "mankind" with the clear purpose of confronting and defeating Jesus.
This manipulation is obvious in Ahab's spirited speeches, detailed mappings, and eagerness, all of which are methods to rush the detrimental encounter. The craziness of Ahab's mission of revenge can be compared to the same type of craziness in the Devil seeking out the death of the Son of God. The metaphor is also strengthened with the final battle of the Pequod and Moby Dick, which last for three days from the moment the "White Whale" is first harpooned. These facts repeat the crucifixion of Christ, where Christ died and went to hell for three days in order to defeat Satan before rising into heaven in glory. Because of this accomplishment, the few who are faithful to the Lord are saved into eternal life, while all those who are unfaithful, are damned.
Therefore, the entire crew goes down with Ahab except for Ishmael, who was theoretically faithful. Thus proving the metaphor of the battle between the evil powers of the Devil versus the divine powers of God and Jesus, both try to obtain the souls of mankind in order to assist in each other's destruction.The Relationship between Moby Dick and The Bible, and the Symbolism Behind it6404 GHE IIHour 311/30/00.
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