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Take A Passage From Moby Dick And Explain The Symbols Of The Book Within The Passage.

1262 words - 5 pages

Tools of DestinyCome, Ahab's compliments to ye; come and see if ye can swerve me. Swerve me? Ye cannot swerve me, else ye yourselves! Man has ye there. Swerve me? The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run. Over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents' beds, unerringly I rush! Naught's an obstacle, naught's an angle to the iron way! (337)In the passage above, Ahab is daring anyone on the ship to divert him from his purpose, which is to gain vengeance on Moby Dick and ultimately end all evil. In Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Ahab needs to gain vengeance on Moby Dick for taking his leg and sees himself as the last line of defense of good against evil. Ahab endangers the lives of all his ship's crew by taking them on a journey to kill one of the most savage beasts in the ocean. As a captain, Ahab cannot be so selfish and ignore the advice of his sailors. In addition to avenging Moby Dick, Ahab sees himself as the destroyer of evil. He feels that if he kills Moby Dick, he is destroying all evil in the world. Ahab not only goes on this journey to gain his vengeance on Moby Dick, but also to rid the world of all evil; even though his ignorance costs his crew members their lives.Ahab's motives set him apart from others hunting the white whale. He is driven by vengeance, not so much against the beast as what the beast represents. To Ahab, the whale is an agent of an evil and tyrannical divinity. He refuses to be a victim of divine vengeance. He will not lean down to divine power or pray for mercy. By killing the whale, the method God used to make Ahab suffer, Ahab would strike at God. Moby Dick is a mask, he tells Starbuck, behind which God lurks. If he can punch through the mask, he can get at the cause of his sorrow. In the way of all tragedies, the prideful hero, thinking himself great enough to challenge the forces of the universe, is doomed to fail; but it is the idea of trying, the assertion of the human will against overwhelming power that makes the hero. The courage and the boldness to try, rather than accept ones fate, make him great. Ahab is driven by pure vengeance, and will not allow fate to determine his life.Ahab might simply be wrong about the cause of his suffering. Quite possibly the whale is an intelligent creature bent on vengeance itself. Melville took the idea of a vengeful whale from reports of an actual whale, which sank a number of whaleboats and attacked whaling ships by ramming them. Ishmael, the narrator, lends support by enlightening the crew on the intelligence of whales through his exhaustive reports on whale biology, whale lore, and actual whale behavior. Despite his insistence that whales are fish, he proves them to be mammals not very different from us. He personifies whales, personalizing them so that it is easy to see them as sensitive, intelligent beings. In the same way, Ahab might simply be mad. On the voyage home after losing his leg, he...

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