Homework Help

Do you think you can read Ishmael as representing humility and Ahab as representing...

user profile pic

quentin1 | (Level 2) Honors

Posted February 24, 2013 at 8:39 PM via web

dislike 0 like

Do you think you can read Ishmael as representing humility and Ahab as

representing pride?

Ishmael tries to follow Christian ethics of humility and kindness. However,

he's going out to sea because he doesn't fit in with society. While on the

voyage, for example, he makes comments about the vulturism of human

society. A good Christian would put up with suffering and injustice, but

poor Ishmael cannot. Like Ahab, he gets angry about what he cannot control

and wants to stop it. He also recognizes, however, that he has no place in

the natural world. He knows that too much time away from human society will

sour all that is happy and good in his heart.

Moby-Dick himself is a living Act of God. He's that tornado that rips

through a midwestern town and leaves a path of destruction. He's that

perfect storm that materializes out of nowhere and pulverizes whole fleets

of ships. He's that flood that swamps all the trailer parks and shanty

towns in our Gulf area while the rich folks read about it high and dry on

their high-speed Time Warner Internet. He's all those things in life that

seem sudden and unpredictable and unfair but you have to find some way to

cope with them because you have no power to control them.

Ahab desperately wants to control those sudden tragedies, those freak

accidents, those Acts of God that remind us daily that certain things--even

our dearest, most important dreams and hopes--were not meant to be (or so

it seems). When he dies along with the crew of the Pequod at the end of the

book, I think we're supposed to feel some kind of liberation. After

agonizing and struggling with and against our fates, we learn to let go of

all those dreams and hopes and resentments and get on with our lives.

Moby-Dick begins in the dark, drizzly cold of New England and ends in the

sunny, balmy climes of the South Pacific. Your spirit achieves true

liberation only when you let go of your pride and anger about all the evil

under the sun and learn to enjoy whatever goodness and happiness you have

left in your life.

0 Answers | Be the first to answer

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes