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by Herman Melville

Moby-Dick Fate and Free Will Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #10

Ahab is for ever Ahab, man. This whole act’s immutably decreed. ’Twas rehearsed by thee and me a billion years before this ocean rolled. Fool! I am the Fates’ lieutenant; I act under orders. Look thou, underling! that thou obeyest mine. (134.43)

In the previous passage, the question "Is Ahab, Ahab?" implied that the presence of a divinely ordained destiny or fate would mean that Ahab isn’t Ahab—that he’s just an extension of God’s will. But in this passage, a complete reliance on Fate goes hand-in-hand with the assertion that "Ahab is for ever Ahab." So the real question is, are we more ourselves when we behave the way we’ve been programmed to by fate, or when we defy destiny and act in unusual ways?

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