Moby-Dick Historical Context

This Study Guide consists of approximately 104 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Moby-Dick.
This section contains 634 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Moby-Dick Study Guide

America in the mid-19th Century

America was in a tumultuous period, establishing its national and international identity at the time Moby-Dick was being written. It is noteworthy that the classic American novel of the period is not ostensibly about westward expansion. Instead it is about pursuit and capture, about following a dream. The American Dream, as it was envisaged by the Founding Fathers, is now considered by some as a dangerous preoccupation, a consuming national obsession. In a real sense, Melville's book is not about its time, but about ours. A possible reading would have the Pequod as modern corporate America, intent on control and subjection, and Ahab as a power-crazed executive, quick to seek vengeance for any received aggression.

Self-reliance

When the novel was being written, Transcendentalism was becoming the predominant philosophical and religious viewpoint. This view— propounded most cogently by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his...

(read more)

This section contains 634 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Moby-Dick Study Guide
Copyrights
Novels for Students
Moby-Dick from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.