Friday, September 24, 2010

Review of "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville

To whoever reads this:

This is a report on the Herman Melville's classic. Enjoy.

            The mind is the most important gift that God gave to mankind. It is what distinguishes us from animals and allows us to choose whether we will accept Jesus as our savior or not. The mind is one of the strongest parts of our body as it can literally determine whether we live or die; however, it is not so strong that it is not susceptible to being damaged or broken. In Moby Dick there are several instances of characters spending too much time on a whaling ship and away from civilization which caused their minds to be injured.
           The first case of a character being mentally injured is when the first whale is killed by the crew of the Pequod, the whaling ship that is the setting of the book. Stubb, the second mate of the ship, killed the whale, so when the beast had been secured to the side of the ship, he had one of the ship’s harpooners cut him a steak from the whale and had the ship’s cook prepare it for him. As he was eating the steak, he was disturbed by the noise of sharks that had gathered to feed on the carcass of the whale. To deal with the troublesome situation, he called the ship’s cook onto the deck and told him to preach to the sharks and tell them to behave in a Christian manner. Stubb obviously did not have all of his mental faculties about him if he actually thought that preaching to the sharks would produce the desired effect.
            Ishmael, the narrator of the book, spent less than a year on the Pequod; however, this was more than enough time to damage him mentally. As Ishmael was narrating the story, he would periodically insert information and thoughts about whales into the text, and it is in these parts of the book that his mental injury becomes evident. He was so enamored with the occupation of whaling that he tried to show what an honorable profession it is. One of the ways that he did this was by claiming that in the story of St. George and the Dragon, St. George was not fighting a dragon but a whale that had been beached. To make this idea even more ludicrous, he proposed that the animal that St. George rode may have been a large seal or seahorse. It is clear that Ishmael was not right in the head to have come up with this idea.
            Ahab, the captain of the Pequod, was influential in the book due to the fact that he was insane. On a previous whaling trip, Ahab had lost his leg to the legendary white whale Moby Dick, and this loss drove him crazy and caused him to go out of his way to kill the whale. In a way, Ahab saw Moby Dick as the embodiment of all that was wrong in his life, and his obsession with killing the beast caused him to lead his ship and crew into harm’s way in order to slay it.
            To some, Moby Dick may just be a book about a demented captain leading his ship on a hunt for a specific whale; however, there are very important lessons to be learned from the story. Though all of the sailors on the Pequod came from different backgrounds, they were all subjected to the same mental torture of separation from civilization, and as a result, the minds of many of them were injured or broken completely. God created in us a need to live in a civilization, and we should not try to defy this need or we will find out that the mind is not so mighty a stronghold that it cannot be overcome.

Thank you for your time and for reading my blog.

Peter Last

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