Moby-Dick explores the variety of relationships that are possible between man and Nature. Most famously, of course, there’s the issue of one man trying to take revenge on Nature for the harm inflicted by a wild beast. Beyond Ahab and his whale, each character in the novel seems to have a slightly different way of understanding and being in the natural world. Some characters have a healthy respect for the power of Nature; others are so in awe of Nature that they feel themselves dissolving ecstatically into it; still others think of Nature as a collection of resources to be harvested and hunted for man’s profit.
Nature itself, personified through the white whale, is the most significant antagonist in Moby-Dick, so man’s struggle to survive in (and profit from) Nature is more intense even than crazy Ahab’s desire for vengeance.
Moby-Dick teaches us to understand Nature as an impersonal backdrop, something that is simply a setting in which human beings act out their own neuroses.