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Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick

by Herman Melville

Moby-Dick Analysis

Literary Devices in Moby-Dick

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Humor columnist Dave Barry once gave potential English majors some advice using Moby-Dick as an example: Never say anything about a book that anybody with any common sense would say. For example,...

Setting

When Ishmael decides to take a whaling voyage, one of his reasons is that he wants to see the world. You might be under the impression that, as a reader, you’ll get to see the world with him,...

Narrator Point of View

For nearly the first 40 chapters of the novel, Moby-Dick is narrated in the first person by Ishmael. For the rest of the book, Ishmael’s personality, and the first person pronouns, fades in a...

Genre

Moby-Dick collects genres the way some people collect loose change: the novel has lots of them, all different types, tucked in its pockets and hidden in its rigging and floating alongside its whali...

Tone

The main term we’re going to use to describe Melville’s tone in Moby-Dick is versatile. It’s almost as though, to prove his greatness as a novelist, he’s writing his way thr...

Writing Style

One example of what we mean when we argue that the style of Moby-Dick is convoluted is to read the third paragraph of Chapter 42 ("The Whiteness of the Whale"), which, you might notice, is a single...

What’s Up With the Title?

Well, on the most basic level, this is a novel about a hunting quest, and the title of the novel is the name of the beast that’s being hunted: Moby Dick, the White Whale. It does seem a littl...

What’s Up With the Epigraph?

Moby-Dick never has just one of something when it could collect the whole set. It doesn’t have just one epigraph – it has 80. Literally 80. We counted. We won’t reproduce them all...

What’s Up With the Ending?

Actor John Moschitta, Jr., in a one-minute, fast-talking summary of Moby-Dick, ends by saying "and everybody dies but the fish and Ish." While that pretty much sums up what happens at the end of th...

Plot Analysis

Ishmael goes on his first whaling voyage as a common sailor for a three-year term aboard the Pequod.This is where it all starts: Ishmael gets the itch to go a-wandering and heads out into the world...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Ishmael, bored and depressed, feels a strange yearning to go to sea on a whaling ship.Ishmael’s feeling that there’s something in the air, something incomprehensible but powerful that&#...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Ishmael decides to go on a whaling voyage, travels to Nantucket, and finds a best friend, Queequeg, and a ship, the Pequod. After learning of Captain Ahab’s quest for revenge on Moby Dick, Is...

Trivia

Although the novel itself is fictional, it’s based on a combination of real-life happenings: Melville’s own experiences as a cabin boy, sailor, harpooneer, and even mutineer on board me...

Steaminess Rating

There’s no sex in Moby-Dick. But there are two characters who share a bed, a fate, and all their worldly possessions, who like to snuggle and throw their legs across one another, and who are...

Allusions

Seneca and the Stoics (1.8, 75.10) Pythagoras (1.11, 98.8) Socrates (10.4) Edmund Burke (24.13) Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (35.9) Samuel Taylor Coleridge (42.5)Julius Caesar (6...

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