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by Herman Melville

Captain Peleg and Captain Bildad

Character Analysis

Woo! Add Peleg and Bildad to the list of great comedy duos. Key and Peele have nothing on these guys!

Oh. Wait. These guys are totally humorless.

Captains Peleg and Bildad are retired Nantucket whaling captains who are now co-owners of the Pequod. Basically, this whaling voyage is like a retirement investment for them, and they take on the outfitting and staffing of the ship in Captain Ahab’s absence.

When Ishmael shows up and asks to join the ship, Peleg and Bildad do something of a good cop/bad cop routine while deciding what his portion of the profits is going to be. Bildad, who is a devoutly religious Quaker and quite humorless, pretty much wants to stiff Ishmael, while Peleg, who appears to be on Ishmael’s side, is really equally interested in stiffing Ishmael. But when Queequeg shows up wanting to join the ship, too, and demonstrates his harpooning skills, Bildad’s religious fervor and cheapness miraculously disappear.