Moby Dick Essay

Submitted By colliermorgan2
Words: 901
Pages: 4

Moby-Dick The definition of madness is “mental delusion or the eccentric behavior arising from it.” In Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick, the character Captain Ahab perfectly suits the definition of madness. After losing his leg to the great, white whale, Moby Dick, Ahab developed a potent desire to seek revenge and kill the whale for taking not only his leg, but his dignity and human rights. Ahab believes the whale is a manifestation of all that is malicious in world and obsesses over the thought of ridding the universe of the evils of the whale. When Ahab’s mental delusion is looked at through a “discerning eye,” it seems reasonable for him to desire revenge on the force who took so much away from him. By understanding the reasons for Ahab’s revenge, it becomes possible to judge Ahab’s eccentric behavior as reasonable. On the surface, Ahab’s quest to kill Moby Dick seems both mad and obsessive. However, under the surface, Ahab is fueled by his soul desire to kill Moby Dick, who took not just his leg, but a piece of his soul. The initial attack caused “his torn body and gashed soul [to] bled into one another, and so interfusing, made him mad” (Melville 92). As the novel proceeds, Ahab’s desire for revenge on Moby Dick cultivates until it becomes his sole purpose in life. When Ahab finally gathers the crewmen together on the ship, Pequod, he explains, through a glowing speech, that the purpose of the voyage is to kill the White Whale. However, Ahab’s obsession with killing Moby Dick becomes so strong that he fails to see the true dangers of trying to kill a whale with God like forces. When Starbuck, a shipmate, accuses Ahab of blasphemy for seeking revenge on the whale, Ahab says he would “strike the sun if it had insulted him” (203). This response shows that Moby-Dick is not just a whale, but an inscrutable force that Ahab would go to the ends of the universe to conquer. When the novel introduces Captain Boomer, he says to Ahab,
"No, thank ye, Bunger," said the English captain, "he’s welcome to the arm he has, since I can’t help it, and didn’t know him then; but not to another one. No more White Whales for me; I’ve lowered for him once, and that has satisfied me. There would be great glory in killing him, I know that; and there is a ship-load of precious sperm in him, but, hark ye, he’s best let alone; don’t you think so, Captain?" (508)
This quote is crucial because shows that Boomer, like Ahab, has lost a limb to Moby Dick. However, unlike Ahab, Boomer has been able to move on with his life. This shows how much madness Ahab possesses towards the White Whale. Although Ahab’s eccentric behavior makes him seem unreasonable, a “discerning eye” can uncover the true reasons behind his behavior. Although Ahab’s actions appear irrational, understanding the reasons why Ahab has gone mad helps his actions seem reasonable. After Moby Dick’s attack on Ahab, Ahab feels as though the whale needs to be punished for taking a part of him. It is a reasonable for Ahab to want revenge on the whale after such a traumatizing attack. The whale took a part of Ahab’s body that he will never get back. As a human being, it is only natural for Ahab to desire revenge towards the whale who took something