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To Ahab, Moby Dick symbolizes evil, a malevolent being that purposefully and with malice attacked him and bit off his leg. His pursuit of Moby Dick to exact vengeance turns him into a monomaniac, obsessed with getting revenge and forsaking all else in his life.
To Starbuck, the first mate, Moby Dick is merely a beast, one of God’s creatures who only attacked Ahab through pure, animal instinct. Flask is very religious and he views Ahab’s obsession as evil, the work of the devil, but Moby Dick himself is merely a beast doing what beasts do – trying to survive. Starbuck prays throughout the novel and relies on God to intervene and perhaps change Ahab’s mind about Moby Dick.
To Stubb, the second mate, Moby Dick represents nature. Stubb is cool under pressure. He has worked on whale ships for so long that he no longer worries about being killed. He believes in fate and that things happen randomly because of fate. In contrast to Starbuck, he believes that there is nothing he can do about affecting what happens to him, it is all up to fate.
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