Essay, Research Paper: Moby Dick

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In the novel Moby Dick, Ishmael is saved while the rest of the Pequod’s crew
die at sea. There is a specific point in the theme of the novel where each crew
member sealed their fate. These thematic reasons make sense at the end of the
novel. The Pequod’s crew dies because of the pledge they made to Ahab. They
put their lives on the line to capture the White Whale. At the time, all of the
crew members on deck thought Moby Dick was a actual whale they were trying to
catch. As the story progresses, they start to realize Moby Dick is
“god-like” and “immortal.” This leaves them chasing a Whale that is more
important then life itself. Thus they are damned to death. Ishmael makes the
same pledge the rest of the crew makes and yet he becomes the lone survivor of
the Pequod’s crew. The thematic reason for his survival is when he cleanses
his hands in the whale blubber in the “Squeeze of the Hand” chapter. He says
“I forgot all about our horrible oath...I washed my hands and my heart of
it.” Queequeg takes the position as the savior for Ishmael. Through him,
Ishmael will be entered back into the “joint stock company,” even though
Queequeg will die. Melville’s ultimate point regarding Ahab’s concept of the
human condition is that maybe it is God who compels us to do the things we do
and that we do not control our own decisions. God may have us predestined for
riches, glory, or sorrow.
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