His three most important sources, in order, are the Bible, Shakespeare, and Milton. In the early encounters, the whaleboats hardly make contact; later there are false alarms and routine chases; finally, the massive assembling of whales at the edges of the China Sea in "The Grand Armada". I wonder if my evil art has raised this monster. Fleece, the cook of the Pequod, was also black, so probably modeled on this Philadelphia-born William Maiden, who was 38 years old when he signed for the Acushnet. Richard Chase writes that for Melville, 'Death—spiritual, emotional, physical—is the price of self-reliance when it is pushed to the point of solipsism, where the world has no existence apart from the all-sufficient self.
Five previously unknown men appear on deck and are revealed to be a special crew selected by Ahab. The Pequod is now heading southeast toward Moby Dick. Ahab stops to look at the doubloon and interprets the coin as signs of his firmness, volcanic energy, and victory; Starbuck takes the high peaks as evidence of the Trinity ; Stubb focuses on the zodiacal arch over the mountains; and Flask sees nothing of any symbolic value at all. For an entire day, Ishmael floats on it, until the Rachel, still looking for its lost seamen, rescues him. Fleece delivers a sermon to the sharks that fight each other to feast on the whale's carcass, tied to the ship, saying that their nature is to be voracious, but they must overcome it. Starbuck orders the carpenter take care it is lidded and caulked. Bezanson mentions sermons, dreams, travel account, autobiography, Elizabethan plays, and epic poetry. He falls into the head, and the head falls off the yardarm into the sea. The whale returns to Ahab, who stabs at him again. Starbuck begs Ahab to desist, but Ahab vows to slay the white whale, even if he would have to dive through the globe itself to get his revenge. Ahab seemed to have "what seems a half-wilful over-ruling morbidness at the bottom of his nature", and "all men tragically great", Melville added, "are made so through a certain morbidness; "all mortal greatness is but disease". This renowned monster, who had come off victorious in a hundred fights with his pursuers, was an old bull whale, of prodigious size and strength. Each has been more and more severely damaged, foreshadowing the Pequod's own fate. That evening, an impressive typhoon attacks the ship. All races are represented among the crew members of the Pequod. Stubb and Flask kill a right whale whose head is fastened to a yardarm opposite the sperm whale's head. Her captain shouts that the harpoon which can kill the white whale has yet to be forged, but Ahab flourishes his special lance and once more orders the ship forward. The pursuit is unsuccessful. Second, the increasingly impressive encounters with whales. Ahab shares a moment of contemplation with Starbuck. Melville found the bulk of his data on whales and whaling in five books, the most important of which was by the English ship's surgeon Thomas Beale, Natural History of the Sperm Whale , a book of reputed authority which Melville bought on July 10, But I feel that I am now come to the inmost leaf of the bulb, and that shortly the flower must fall to the mould. Structure[ edit ] Point of view[ edit ] Ishmael is the narrator, shaping his story with use of many different genres including sermons, stage plays, soliloquies, and emblematical readings. Ahab, with one nostril, smells the musk from the Bashee isles, and with the other, the salt of the waters where Moby Dick swims. In fact, Moby Dick is then swimming up at him.
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