by Herman Melville
Moby-Dick Revenge Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"No, thank ye, Bunger," said the English captain, "he’s welcome to the arm he has, since I can’t help it, and didn’t know him then; but not to another one. No more White Whales for me; I’ve lowered for him once, and that has satisfied me. There would be great glory in killing him, I know that; and there is a ship-load of precious sperm in him, but, hark ye, he’s best let alone; don’t you think so, Captain?" – glancing at the ivory leg. (100.36)
Even though Captain Boomer (the "English captain") is only in Moby-Dick for one chapter, he’s a crucial foil to Captain Ahab. Like Ahab, Boomer has lost a limb to the White Whale, but unlike Ahab, he’s able to accept this and move on with his life without getting completely obsessed. We start to realize how bizarre Ahab’s desire to take revenge on Moby Dick really is.
Fashioned at last into an arrowy shape, and welded by Perth to the shank, the steel soon pointed the end of the iron; and as the blacksmith was about giving the barbs their final heat, prior to tempering them, he cried to Ahab to place the water-cask near.
"No, no – no water for that; I want it of the true death-temper. Ahoy, there! Tashtego, Queequeg, Daggoo! What say ye, pagans! Will ye give me as much blood as will cover this barb?" holding it high up. A cluster of dark nods replied, Yes. Three punctures were made in the heathen flesh, and the White Whale’s barbs were then tempered.
"Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!" deliriously howled Ahab, as the malignant iron scorchingly devoured the baptismal blood. (113.14-26)
Forging a harpoon in human blood in a demonic parody of the baptismal ceremony, Ahab proclaims in fancy pseudo-church Latin, "I baptize you, not in the name of the Father, but in the name of the Devil!"
Finally, he’s directly admitted (okay, saying it in Latin isn’t all that direct) that throwing away every other aspect of his life and focusing on revenge is sacrilegious. It might seem weird that he wants to use human blood to create the harpoon that will strike Moby Dick, but, if you think about it, any tool used for hunting the White Whale seems to get covered in human blood sooner or later!
From the ship’s bows, nearly all the seamen now hung inactive; hammers, bits of plank, lances, and harpoons, mechanically retained in their hands, just as they had darted from their various employments; all their enchanted eyes intent upon the whale, which from side to side strangely vibrating his predestinating head, sent a broad band of overspreading semicircular foam before him as he rushed. Retribution, swift vengeance, eternal malice were in his whole aspect, and spite of all that mortal man could do, the solid white buttress of his forehead smote the ship’s starboard bow, till men and timbers reeled. (135.55)
In the final battle scenes of the novel, Moby Dick does seem like a consciously malignant creature. The narrator (maybe Ishmael, maybe not) describes the whale as having "[r]etribution, swift vengeance, [and] eternal malice" in his face.
As we look into his eyes, we start to wonder if Ahab might have been on to something. Maybe the White Wale is malicious; maybe the seemingly unconscious behavior of the natural world does hint at something more conscious and sinister behind God’s creatures. (Wait... wouldn’t that be God?) Then again, the narrator and the sailors could be projecting their own malice onto the whale.