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A whale of a book.

Herman Melville's Moby-Dick: you've probably heard of it as a huge, long, difficult novel about hunting an insanely bloodthirsty whale. Well, we at Shmoop are here to show you that it's also an insanely bloodthirsty novel about hunting a huge, long, difficult whale. And, bonus: it's also a deep meditation on God, death, money, revenge, madness, and religion—with lots of stylish, Tarantino-esque violence to boot.

This is a not-huge, not-long, not-difficult fifteen-lesson course, so we're trimming out all the blubber from the book, and giving you everything you need to get through Moby-Dick, real quick. Once you've set sail with us, we're pretty sure you'll be every bit as obsessed with Moby-Dick as Captain Ahab is with, uh, Moby Dick.

The reading, activities, and whale-watching moments in this course will help you

  • understand how a book about a whaling voyage is also secretly a book about money, death, destiny, slavery, Christianity, and literature.
  • get what's going on with all the weird digressions, obscure references, and ultra-violent scenes, and how they make Moby-Dick different from almost every other novel out there.
  • tease out some of the novel's crazy weird whaling symbolism.
  • get into the heads of the crew members of the Pequod, the strangest set of sailors this side of Jack Sparrow.

Course Breakdown

*Purchasing by unit includes course material only.

Unit 1. Moby-Dick

Everyone has their own personal white whale. Captain Ahab's happens to be an actual white whale, but ours is a big ol' novel. In this 15-lesson unit, we'll tackle one of the heftiest American stories ever written.


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  • Course Length: 3 weeks
  • Grade Levels: 11, 12, College
  • Course Type: Short Course
  • Category:
    • College Prep
    • English
    • Literature

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