Biblical Allusions In Melville's Moby Dick

699 words - 3 pages

In The Town-Ho’s Story, Melville uses many different types of figurative devices to describe the relationship between Steelkilt and Radney. Radney is known and described as the inferior, yet higher ranked, mate, while Steelkilt is described as the more respectable, but lower ranked mate. Melville faintly, yet noticeably relates Moby Dick as a God and Steelkilt as Jesus. Such clever biblical allusions accurately describe Moby Dick and Steelkilt and although Melville does not give any biblical significance to Radney, the readers can still clearly visualize Radney’s character. The Town-Ho’s Story has symbolic significance that both foreshadows and describes Radney, Steelkilt, Moby Dick, and the fate of the Pequod.
Melville uses many figurative devices to explain and describe Steelkilt and Radney’s relationship. Melville uses similes such as, “a head like a roman”, or “was ugly as a mule” to describe the two characters. Steelkilt was described as a “tall and noble animal with a head like a roman” and Radney was described to be “as ugly as a mule.” This shows the irony in their situation because Radney is higher ranked than Steelkilt, yet he is described and seen as a worse person than Steelkilt. If Radney had the chance, he would “pull down and pulverize the subaltern’s tower,” showing that he is trying too hard to try to destroy someone who is lower ranked and not as significant as he is. Melville alludes to the story of Charlemagne and states that Steelkilt is Charlemagne himself, signifying that it is in Steelkilt’s blood to lead the mutiny. Melville then cleverly foreshadows the death of Radney with a fight between him and Steelkilt. The usage of Melville’s nautical terms and similes help connect the relation between the fight that ultimately leads to Radney’s death. Steelkilt’s fist into the jaw of Radney is parallel to a whale and a stoved boat. Melville describes Steelkilt’s fist being “stove in his head.” Steelkilt’s fist acts as the whale and Radney’s jaw acts as the...

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