Moby-Dick Themes & Symbolism

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Individual vs. Nature

The voyage of the Pequod is no straightforward, commercially inspired whaling voyage. The reader knows this as soon as Ishmael registers as a member of the crew and receives, at secondhand, warnings of the captain's state of mind. Ahab, intent on seeking revenge on the whale who has maimed him, is presented as a daring and creative individual, pitted against the full forces of nature. In developing the theme of the individual (Ahab) versus Nature (symbolized by Moby-Dick), Melville explores the attributes of natural forces. Are they ruled by chance, neutral occurrences that affect human characters arbitrarily? Or do they possess some form of elementary will that makes them capable of using whatever power is at their disposal?

Choices and Consequences

Ahab is both a hero and a villain. In making a choice and sticking by it, he can be seen as valiantly exercising free...

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This section contains 1,148 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Moby-Dick Study Guide
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Moby-Dick from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.