Describe Captain Ahab in Moby Dick.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Ahab is set apart from all others by his personal experiences and singular focus on killing his adversary, the whale.  In this light, Ahab is driven by demons that no one else can understand or grasp.  Being abandoned at an early age and convinced that the whale attacked him out of malice, Ahab is unreachable in his desires for revenge.  Ahab is depicted as almost Shakespearean in magnitude, in that he is the victim of tragedy that he himself helped to cause.  Ahab has not understood the need to be able to accept real conditions of consciousness and work through them.  Rather, he is driven to overcome these elements.  He is animated by appropriating the world in accordance to his own subjectivity, as opposed to working through what is there.  In this light, I think that Ahab is the type of figure that is the victim of tragedy that is caused by his own hand.  Accordingly, the idea of Ahab being set apart or being physically and emotionally distant from all others might be a good starting point in describing him.

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