Moby-Dick by Melville

Pen & Ink Reviews

mobyCall me Ishmael. It is one of the most noted lines in literary history. Thus beginsHerman Melville’s Moby-Dick, a classic in America’s literary body. Complex and dense, the tale revolves around a depressive former school teacher who instructs the reader to call him Ishmael as he becomes embroiled in an ill-fated, epic voyage around the world aboard the Pequod. While the straightforward plot is well-known—an insane captain pursues an insane white whale—the nuances, imagery, allegories, and symbolism are what make this tale a classic.

The most prevalent theme in Moby-Dick is that of man versus nature, human versus animal. Fear, pain, and rage have all combined to create Captain Ahab’s relentless obsession, and the mysterious, deadly white whale has become a symbol for all of the man’s (and humankind’s) suffering. Nature in all its might, apathy, and sometimes seeming-intent is personified in the figure of the white whale…

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