Moby Dick Major Characters
Ishmael: The narrator of the story, Ishmael disappears into his own tale after the first ten or so chapters, popping up periodically to give comments on the text. He is an every man; as such, it is difficult to describe specific things about him. He is a schoolteacher on the land, and has an open mind when it comes to the world around him. Also, he has prodigious knowledge of whaling, which he shares between chapters of plot in the narrative. Ishmael is the only man aboard the Pequod to survive the novel.
Queequeg: The friendly cannibal Ishmael first meets in the city of New Bedford; they become fast and good friends, despite Queequeg's less than Christian background. Queequeg is an extremely noble, decent man, with an almost child-like wonder at the world; he is willing to put his life in jeopardy to save anyone. He becomes one of the three harpooneers of the Pequod.
Captain Ahab: Captain of the Pequod. Ahab is the main focus of Moby Dick. He is a tall, tremendously proud man, in at least his fifties, who lords over his ship like a dark god of vengeance. He has a vivid line, either a birthmark or a scar, which runs the entire length of his body, seemingly splitting him in two. His leg was taking in whaling accident by Moby Dick, and ever since then, he has become obsessed with hunting down the whale and killing it. In his mind, Moby Dick comes to represent all of the injustice in the world. He is the novel's most famous character, and an easily recognizable symbol of monomania. Ahab does have human decency in him, but it is continually driven out to sea by his need for revenge. He is killed when trying to harpoon Moby Dick.
Starbuck: The Chief Mate of the Pequod. Starbuck is a decent, honorable man. Unlike the rest of the crew, he is not taken in with Ahab's quest, and is continually trying to get the old man to turn home. Starbuck has a wife and son who he misses very much, and fears he will never see again. He is the only man willing to stand up to Ahab, and tell him his true thoughts about Ahab's obsession. Ahab has him stay aboard the Pequod during the hunt for Moby Dick, in an effort to spare him his life, which, of course, fails.
Stubb: Stubb is the second mate. He is most easily characterized by a free sense of humor; Stubb is able to laugh at everything, up to and including death itself. Unlike Starbuck, he has no fear of mortal danger, and nothing seems to bother him very much. While mending a harness or chasing a whale, his jokes remain constant.
Moby Dick: The whale that gives its name to the title of the book, Moby Dick hovers outside the entire narrative, occasionally poking his head out in the stories of ships that the Pequod encounters on her voyage. He is an avenging presence, unable to be killed by human hands, and very likely immortal. He is symbolized as a vengeful God incarnate, only killing when he himself is pursued. There are reports of him taking out entire whaling vessels. He is also called the White Whale.
Fedallah: Also known as the Parsee, Fedallah is the leader of the band of men taken on by Ahab to crew his personal boat. Fedallah does not speak much, but he has an air of mystery about him that keeps him separate from the rest of the crew. He makes a dire prophecy of Ahab's fate, and of his own; he dies before Ahab, which is one of the omens of Ahab's death.
Bulkington: A sailor that Ishmael first meets in the Spouting-Inn, and later sees on the deck of the Pequod. His character is unknown, but he holds himself apart from the other men when Ishmael first sees him.
Aunt Charity: Bildad's sister, who helps get the ship ready to sail. She also tries to prohibit the men from drinking on the ship, which is quickly thrown over. One of the only two women in the novel.
Pip: A fun-loving, intelligent young black boy who falls over the side during a whale hunt, and goes insane before he can be picked up again. Like Lear's Fool, he provides a counterpoint to Ahab's driven madness; Ahab takes pity on him after he goes mad, and has Pip stay below in Ahab's cabin.