How might Ahab's struggle against the white whale be viewed as humankind struggle against the mysteries of life that elude understanding?

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ahab is consumed by finding Moby Dick in order to seek revenge because Moby Dick bit off Ahab's leg. Moby Dick is elusive, however, just like the answer to many of life's questions, i.e., "What is our purpose on this earth?" or "Why does evil exist?" We can spend a lifetime vainly struggling to figure out life's meaning. Even when Ahab finally locates Moby Dick, he does not get revenge, but is destroyed. Ahab's obsession prevents him from experiencing the abundant life that God wishes us all to have, just like any obsession would. Ahab has turned Moby Dick into a type of idol, and idols destroy men because they take men's focus off God. This novel is rich in Biblical symbolism. Compare to themes in the book of Ecclesiastes - "All is vanity!"