Video appunto: Melville, Herman - Schema

Herman Melville


The story takes place in the 1830s or 1840s aboard the whaling ship Pequod. The captain of this ship is Ahab, whose only purpose in his life is revenge against a sperm whale that had taken one of his legs. Ishmael, the narrator, joins them before the sails of the ship. The story is based on the hunt of the whale, which is finally seen and hunted for three days.
At the end of the battle, Moby-Dick, destroys the ship and noone, except Ishmael, survives.


-Melville, uses a first-person narrator and also introduces a third-person narrator (an omniscient narrator) using soliloquy and dramatic dialogue.
-The language shifts from a very high and poetic language to very colloquial, low, plain language.


different men from different countries, with different races and religions that form a microcosm.


-looks very educated to us especially compared to the others
-his name means outcast


-an anti-hero
-he behaves like God, and his major sin is to challenge nature
-Ahab can be compared to the Ancient mariner and Prometheus because all of them challenge nature.
-Ahab is also the voice of the spirituality of the New world, which rejects the tyranny of nature over man.
-there are parallels with the biblical history of Jonah.


-is the personification of evil under the point of view of Ahab
-It could also represent the embodiment of mankind’s quest for a reason for existence
-It also could represent nature and its destructive force
-it represents Kant's idea of dynamic ​sublime: the modern man is afraid of the whale because he feels inferior to it, and is frightened by it. But, the modern man (who in this case is captain Ahab), is at the same time obsessed by it, and he is driven by the desire to destroy it, because the whale represents a world that the man can’t control


-adventurous life
-merchant ship; american whaler (killed the sperm whale); deserted the ship; Polynesia island; met the Typees; returned home
-is fame faded rapidly and his works were reinterpreted in modern time

Theme of limit

The hunt represents the hunt of humans for complete knowledge and Moby-Dick represents the limit of human’s knowledge. In fact humans can’t understand nature.

Satire of colonialism

He thinks that European and American based colonialism on their feeling of superiority.

The quest of the men’s place in the universe

Man is searching for a place in the world because religion failed. God is absent and for this reason an universal code of ethical behavior doesn’t exist and so the human response to live became subjective.

The conflict between human being and universe and nature