What might the fight between Ahab and Moby represent in "Moby Dick"?

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jrmullett1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Captain Ahab's epic journey to find and destroy the white whale, called Moby-Dick by the crew of the Pequod, is fueled by maniacal obsession for vengeance after the whale destroyed Ahab's ship and chomped-off his leg.

The fight between Ahab and Moby represents a desire for revenge that becomes a unhealthy addiction, which, in turn, leads to an obsession that consumes him; the ultimate cost is his life, and the lives of those around him.

Ahab dies at the end of the book, but in reality, his life had already been consumed by his obsession; a life wasted well before he was dragged to the bottom of the ocean. When faced with his imminent demise, Ahab's obsession reaches its literary zenith:

". . . to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee."

The better question to ask here may be what parallels can be drawn from this specific tale? The answer is that it may be a representation of man's struggle against that which he can no longer control. When I think of Ahab, I think of his need for revenge as an allegory to a drug addict in need of his next high. He cannot control himself and he ruins his life and the life of everyone around him. But that's just one line of many that can be drawn from this tale.