Herman Melville

I. Biographical Insights

A. The culture this great author was a part of was the time
in American history where inspiring works of literature
began to emerge. It was also a time when American writers
had not completely separated its literary heritage from

Europe, partly because there were successful literary
genius’ flourishing there.

B. Herman Melville was born on August 1, 1819, he was the
son of Allan and Maria Melville. During Herman’s childhood
he lived in the "good" neighborhoods of New York City.

In 1832 Herman suffered tragedy when his father died after
trying to cope with the stress of debts and misfortunes.

After a short time in a business house in New York City,

Herman determined he needed to go to sea.

He spent years traveling on a variety of ships, including
whaling ships.

C1. Melville’s perspective on life is that God created the
universe with an infinite number of
meanings and man is always trying to determine one specific
meaning.

D2. The "lessons" that Melville is likely to weave into
his writing are 1. An exposition on
whales and the whaling industry. 2. A commentary on the
universe and human destiny. 3.

Thoughts about God and Nature.

III. Characters

B. The protagonist in this book is Ishmael, a Christian,
schoolteacher and part-time sailor. Ishmael’s role in the
hunt for "Moby Dick" is to interpret what is happening. He
discusses his reasons for going to sea and interprets and
looks for understanding a number of reasons for any specific
action where other characters only understand one reason.

C. It is hard to say what changes take place in Ishmael’s
personality, since he is the narrator he doesn’t
talk about himself, he only talks about what he sees.

D1. Ishmael befriends Queequeg who is a cannibal. Even
though Queequeg is very ugly Ishmael sees that Queequeg has
an honest heart, great honor, and a lot of courage. This
friendship had a positive influence on Ishmael’s behavior
because it taught him not to judge on outward appearances.

E2. Another relationship that was very short was the
relationship between Ishmael and Captain Ahab. For the first
few days aboard the Pequod Ishmael always saw Ahab in the
shadows. When Ishmael finally saw Ahab he had shivers run
through his body. Ishmael felt Ahab’s attitude of
determination, dedication and hatred towards "Moby Dick" in

Ahab’s appearance. This relationship was a negative
relationship because Ishmael now feared Ahab and did not
want to become friends with such an evil person.

F. The conflict that Ishmael experienced was that he saw how

Ahab was such an evil man and that

Ishmael was a good natured man and did not want to be
corrupted by Ahab. To resolve this conflict

Ishmael stayed away from Ahab.

Representative Passage on Imagery and Figurative Language

"Yonder, by the ever-brimming goblet’s rim,
the warm waves blush like wine. The gold brow plumbs the
blue. The diver sun—long dived from noon,—goes down; my soul
mounts up! she wearies with her endless hill. Is, then, the
crown too heavy that I wear? this Iron Crown of Lombardy.

Yet is it bright with many a gem; I, the wearer, see not its
far flashings; but darkly fell that I wear that, that
dazzlingly confounds. ‘Tis iron—that I know—not gold. ‘Tis
split, too—that I feel; the jagged edge galls me so, my
brain seems to beat against the solid metal." Chapter LV

A. The details being used to make us feel like we are
watching a sunset is that it says "the warm waves
blush like wine. The gold brow plumbs the blue. The diver
sun—long dived from noon,—goes down; my
soul mounts up!"

B. The similes the author uses are the comparison of the
colored waves of the sunset to wine. I believe
that when the author is talking about the "Iron Crown of

Lombardy" he is talking about the sun. When it
says "Is, then, the crown too heavy that I wear?" he is
talking about the sunrise as the sun first starts
ascending. I think that noon is where it is says "Yet is it
bright with many a gem; I, the wearer, see not its
far flashings;". I also think that "‘Tis iron—that I
know—not gold. ‘Tis split, too—that I feel; the jagged
edge galls me so, my brain seems to beat against the solid
metal." means he wants to take off the crown
signifying sunset.

IV. Symbolism / Allusions

D. The objects that are representative of larger ideas are

Moby Dick who is a symbol of all of the things in the
universe. The color of the whale being white could mean so
many different and conflicting things that it can’t be
narrowed down to one meaning. The coffin that was turned
into a buoy that saved Ishmael’s life