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A Critical Analysis of Melville's Moby Dick

A literary analysis of the American novel written by Melville entitled “Moby Dick.” The essay presents an exhaustive discussion on the structure, plot, theme, characters, dialogue and other significant elements present to fictional works using both extrinsic and intrinsic approaches of literature.

language english
wordcount 12772 (cca 36 pages)
contextual quality N/A
language level N/A
price free
sources 28
Table of contents

About the Author 2
Moby Dick as a Classic American Literature 2
Some Notes About The Writer 4
The Author’s Conception of the Work 8
An Analysis of the Structure and Plot of the Novel 10
Some Points of Consideration in Analyzing the Novel 28
Final Notes 32
Reference 33

Preview of the essay: A Critical Analysis of Melville's Moby Dick

The man who took so long before he could join the pantheon of American writers was born on August 1, 1819 and died September 18, 1891. His life span corresponds closely to those of Lowell and Whitman. But his best work belongs by chronology and by method to the romance which reached its climax before the Civil War. College held no attraction for the young Melville. He attended the local Academy in Albany but his father’s death had left his mother destitute with six children. He had to make his way to the world. He had gone to see before he was twenty and twenty-two; he was with the crew of the whaler Acushnet bound for the Pacific. Eighteen months of excitement in the sperm whale fishery and harsh treatment on the ships culminated in a desertion. He fell in with the Tyrenees, a wild tribe of supposed cannibals in the marquesas Islands for four months---during which time he won the tribesmen’s confidence. Eventually he was picked up by a Sydney schooner and ...

... body and voice of Melville? Does the author identify himself with the "Isolatoes" that go down to the sea in whaling ships? Is the frustrated old blacksmith, Perth, an expression or Melville’s state or a prophetic insight of his future lot in life?

Does our knowledge of the authors life add to our appreciation and understanding of' 1110 work before us? Or is an, awareness of the biography('in reality out of which the author wrote irrelevant to what a work of fiction communicates to us? Should we just concern rate on the work and forget the writer, or is this impossible? Can we turn the biographical in¬terpretation around and learn something about the author from his work? Is all writing self-revelatory, especially fiction writing? Can a writer succeed in concealing himself and keep¬ing himself completely out of the story?

Rainer Maria Rilke, a great German poet of our time, said that the poet should write out of his experience and suffer¬ing-with them, so to speak, but not about them. Which does Melville do in Moby Dick? Is he writing about his personal state and experience or with them? Has he fashioned an ob¬jective work of art? Does his personal slant and tone distort and detract from the aesthetic qualities of the work or add to them?

Final Notes

Considered as Melville’s chief claim for immortality, Moby Dick is dedicated to Nathaniel Hawthorne. The novel as presented in the above analysis is a wild mélange of adventure and philosophy, of realism and fantasy colored by poetic romance. The obsession of Captain Ahab to kill the great white whale is one of literature’s classical themes. The realistic narrative of whaling, intercepted by numerous digressions and prose apostrophes, commonplace details and melodramatic events, and transcendental subtleties are all propelled by the captain’s monomaniacal determination to find the whale and exterminate it. It is the will of man pitted against infinite evil in the universe (the whale) (Crawford, 71).
Essay is in categories


Humanistic Studies


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