Moby Dick by Herman Melville Essay
Moby Dick by Herman Melville causes unrest in minds of many readers. The narrative brings out most of the literal sense although it seems to be unfinished. The great thing about the fiction is the use of art which makes it great and strong.
Melville describes the African American characters: Pip and Fleece using various principal characteristics of literature. In this paper, we explore the elements of literature used to describe Pip and Fleece and their relationship with Ahab and Stubb respectively. In addition the dialect used depicts their speech and not superiority or inferiority of a given group of persons.
Melville uses figurative language to describe Pip as he calls him “black little Pip” in chapter 28. This means that Pip was a black and little man. “Black little Pip” is a hyperbole used to describe Pip. Melville also depicts Pip as a happy boy from Alabama. He vividly explains Pip’s happiness by the way he plays tambourine on front part of the castle.
In addition, he uses ideas and natural phenomenon like “bid in strike with angels and beat his tambourine in glory…” to define Pip’s joy or happiness. This description brings out his insanity which occurred after jumping from boat when they were chasing a whale with Stubb. As a result, he became mentally disturbed. His act of playing toumbrine joyfully depicts the state of his mind as it is shown in chapter 28.
According to Melville, Fleece is described as an old black man and the cook in the ship. In chapter 64, Melville refers to him as “old Fleece” to show his elderliness. The author uses invocation of abstract and humor to describe the stiffness in Fleece’s knees. In chapter 64, he refers to them as “…his knee pans, which did not keep well scoured like his other pan.” Symbolism and ambiguity are elements of literature used to describe the character of Fleece as an old cook.
Fleece is also described as a man who is ordered to address sharks as noted in here “mumbling voice began to addressing the sharks.” He also gives a vivid description of the interior design of the ship where Fleece supports himself while addressing sharks. Such a design can be compared to complex psychological state of Fleece due to his advanced age. The author uses idea of addressing sharks as equal to sermons given in Christian congregations. The advanced age of Fleece is shown in his limping.
The relationship between Captain Ahab and Pip brings out contrast in Pequod. According to Melville, Captain Ahab is a main and prominent character in Pequod.
Pip is direct opposite of Captain Ahab. Pip is not deeply analyzed in the novel compared to Ahab. Ahab is the most powerful and Pip is the least powerful in Pequod. In chapter 124, Pip’s speech is passionate but senseless and only way to understand him is through his bond with Ahab. Ahab begins to hunt Moby Dick and is determined to kill him as seen in his speech “wreck that hate upon him.”
In addition, he realizes Pip possessed a deeper understanding which could help him to achieve his goals. Ahab took note of Pip’s speech when Queequeg died and he said that they ought to make him a general. “General” is symbolic to show Queequeg was honorable and a good man. In chapter 125, Pip talked about his lost soul when he jumped out of boat.
At this point, Ahab realized that his sanity was controlled by his own insanity and Pip’s insanity controlled his sanity too. In chapter 129, Ahab is determined to kill Moby Dick. He begs Pip to stay with him so that he can attain his goal. The main foundations of their relationship are noted in Pip’s loyalty, the spiritual encounter under the water and lack of control over Ahab. Ahab takes advantage of these reasons to gain knowledge on how to kill Moby Dick. Mostly, Melville has used symbolism to bring out the ideas of participants.
In chapter 64, Melville brings out contrasting qualities of Stubb and Fleece. This chapter is characterized by racial stereotypes of antebellum. Here is a short description of antebellum. Antebellum in American history was characterized by conflict which divided the country.
The conflict was between agricultural South, free labor in industrializing North and slave labor. However the similarities between South and North were more pronounced than the differences. During antebellum period, the Africa-Americans were viewed in various ways by different groups of people. For example, in southern part black people were enslaved while in North Americans regarded slavery with hatred and disgust.
In chapter 64 on Stubb’s Supper, Stubb is depicted as a mischievous person with good sense of humor. He does not attach too much significance on something. Fleece is an old black cook and his character is not deeply explored. Their relationship is that of a servant master.
Ishmael uses symbolism to describe Fleece’s walking style after being awakened by Stubb to prepare his dinner. Fleece being old, he had been limping and Ishmael captures this character vividly using invocation of abstract and symbolism. The narrator defines fleece’s weakening legs as “knee-pans” to symbolize stiffening knees of the old cook. In addition, he uses kitchen items to compare his physical body with the work he does.
A deep description of the ship’s interior is given especially from hammock where Fleece was sleeping, to the deck where Stubb stayed. Stubb complains that the steak is overdone and not rough the way sharks want it. Stubb compares himself to a shark and he also realizes how the sharks are excited about the whale they are feeding on.
He sends Fleece to give them a sermon to remind them that they should eat quietly no matter how much they eat. Fleece obeys Stubb’s orders although they seem to be unrealistic because sharks do not understand spoken language. The relationship here is that of master-servant; where a servant accomplishes orders no matter how ridiculous they may be. In addition, issues of racism are depicted clearly by the author.
Stubb tells Fleece to coax sharks instead of giving them orders, which is symbolic as he fools Fleece. In addition, Stubb mocks his Christian belief of eternal life and tells to be born again to cook steak correctly. The author here uses irony because Fleece has been a cook for many years whether born again or not.
Fleece is disappointed by the treatment and mockery shown by Stubb as he goes back to bed. Moreover, Ishmael gets metaphorical when Fleece explains to sharks that they should govern themselves calmly and feast on whale equally because it does not belong to them but to someone else. The relationship here is characterized by mockery and absurd orders.
In conclusion, the author uses symbolism, hyperboles, ambiguity of meaning, universal ideas and description of interior to describe the qualities of Fleece and Pip. In addition, Melville describes their relationships with Stubb and Ahab and the natural environment.
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Moby Dick by Herman Melville causes unrest in minds of many readers. The narrative brings out most of the literal sense although it seems to be unfinished. The great thing […]