Moby Dick or The Whale was published in 1851 and it was written by Herman Melville. It begins with the opening line well-known to everyone: Call me Ishmael. In literary history, this is one of the most tremendous novels ever written. Ishmael is a sailor who tells us the story about Captain Ahab and his obsessive search for the white whale Moby Dick. This novel is more than adventure novel, it is a social analysis populated by the most lasting characters in literature. When novel was published, it wasn’t a commercial success. But thanks to some famous writers like William Faulkner and D. H. Lawrence, Moby Dick got all the well deserved attention. The realistic and accurate descriptions of whale hunting is mixed great with the descriptions of good and evil, social status and the existence of God. Melville wrote this story with a language that includes biblical, nautical, Homeric, Miltonic and Shakespearean influences. Herman Melville is now considered as one of the greatest novelists of all time.
The tale begins with Ishmael who is seeking an adventure. He comes to New Bedford to sign up for a whale hunt. There he goes to an inn where he shares his room with a tattooed Polynesian Queequeg who is a harpooner. The next day, Ishmael and Queequeg went for Nantucket. There they sign up for whale voyage on the whaler Pequod. The ship-owner Peleg describes Captain Ahab to Ishmael as ungodly, grand, god-like man who however has his humanities. On Christmas day the Pequod left the harbor.
Ishmael explains cetology the whale zoological classification and its natural history. He also describes his crew members. Starbuck is the chief mate of the Pequod and his harpooner is Queequeg , Stubb is the second mate and his harpooner is Tashtego, Flask is the third mate and his harpooner is Daggoo. Finally Ahab appears and he declares that he is out for vengeance on the white whale. The whale took his leg and now he has a prosthesis made of whale’s jawbone. Ahab believes that the whale is an embodiment of evil. The first man who sees the whale will get a gold doubloon.
During their sailing towards the southern tip of Africa, the whales are spotted but badly hunted. While hunting, a group of people appear from the hold. The leader is an exotic looking man Fedallah. They were hiding on the boat. Ahab believes that Fedallah’s skills will help them to catch the whale. The Pequod sails into the Indian Ocean. They caught few whales and processed them for the oil. Occasionally they encounter other whale ships. Every time Ahab strongly demands news about the whale. The ship Jeroboam carried the prophet Gabriel. He predicted disaster and doom for anyone who threatens the whale. Soon after, Pequod encounters another whaling ship Samuel Enderby. Ship’s Captain Boomer lost his arm in confrontation with Moby Dick. But he was happy because he survived and couldn’t understand Ahab’s desire for revenge. Shortly, Queequeg gets ill. Ship’s carpenter builds for him a coffin because he thought Queequeg will die. But he luckily survives. So now, the coffin becomes Pequod’s life buoy.