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Character Analysis

In: English and Literature

Submitted By dianeudrih
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Ahab

• The Character of Ahab

Ahab is the captain of the Pequod's. Long before his first appearance, there is an air of mystery about him. When the narrator Ishmael inquires about the captain, he is told that Ahab is a man of few words but deep meaning. From this we can see clearly that Ahab is a complicated character.

When Ahab speaks, others will easily listen to him and be moved by his powerful persuasion. When the time he gathers the crewmen and requests their support in the purpose for the voyage: to hunt down and kill the White Whale, he asks a series of questions that call for collective responses, and then the crewmen are increasingly excited. In the end, all of the crewmen except for the first mate, Starbuck, are all in the monomaniacal goal of pursuing the White Whale.

• Ahab vs. Moby-Dick

When the first mate, Starbuck, accuses Ahab of blasphemy for seeking revenge against the White Whale, Ahab doesn’t consider it a vice. He once says that he would “strike the sun if it insulted me.” Ahab wants to take control of the nature. To him, the White Whale is the evil force which is his true enemy, and he believes that the evil force wants to injure him, to limit his role in the world.

Ahab refuses to submit to any higher power. He does not worship or even acknowledge the superiority of forces beyond himself. Ahab is ungodly but god-like; perhaps he even wants to be God.

• Ahab’s Fate

But we can see a different side of Ahab when the day before the Pequod's first encounter with the White Whale. For the most part, Ahab is a character who does not change throughout the novel due to his only obsession with killing the White Whale, but here he wavers. Ahab recalls his forty years at sea, of these years he has not spent three on the land. He calls himself a “fool,” but when Starbuck tries to persuade him to turn back and go home, Ahab says he is no longer in control of his fate. Like the force behind the White Whale, the force behind Ahab's motivation is also incontrollable and unexplainable. In his madness, he is fighting against evil or nature, but maybe he is simply fighting his own ego.

• The Representation of Hero

In conclusion, Ahab represents both an ancient and a modern type of hero. His huge overconfidence and arrogance lead him to ignore common sense and he believes that he can control his will like a God and remain immune to the forces of nature. He considers Moby Dick, the White Whale, to be the embodiment of evil in the world, and he pursues the White Whale because he believes it is his inescapable fate to destroy the evil. Ahab is not a stereotypical and not an ordinary man. He is a complicated and tortured soul. Even though he knows he is mad, he cannot stop himself. Ahab suffers from a single fatal flaw, like one of the legendary characters Oedipus. However, the flaw he suffers from is unlike the heroes of older tragic works; it is not necessarily inborn but caused by damage. He is as much a victim as an aggressor, and the symbolic opposition between him and Moby Dick drives him toward what he considers a destined end.

Starbuck • The Character of Starbuck Starbuck is the first mate of the Pequod's crew. He is the only man who resists Ahab's plan to hunt and kill the White Whale. He is a religious man, calm and conservative; he relies on his Christian faith to determine his actions and interpretations of events.

• The Contrast between Starbuck and Ahab

Starbuck contrasts with Ahab in his spirit and manner. Ahab is outrageous and monomaniac; Starbuck is prudent and reasonable but he lacks Ahab's power. He argues that the ship's mission is to gather as much whale oil as possible and return home safely. He feels it is “blasphemous” to be enraged by a dumb object of nature such as a whale, and he realizes that living aboard is at serious risk. At one point, Starbuck even considers shooting the captain to end the madness.

• Starbuck’s Opposition to Kill the White Whale

In the end, however, he consents Ahab to hunt the white whale. Even though he is certain that Ahab is mad, Starbuck cannot take the action to stop him. At any rate, Starbuck obeys orders, and he changes only because he submits to Ahab.

Stubb and Flask

• The Character of Stubb

Stubb is the second mate and he is jolly and cool in moments of crisis. He has worked in the dangerous occupation of whaling for a long time so he has stopped concerning the possibility of death. He believes that things happen as they are meant to and there is little he can do about it.

• The Character of Flask Flask simply enjoys the thrill of hunting and takes pride in killing whales. He doesn't consider consequences at all and he has lost his sense of respect for the whale.

• The Contrast between Ahab, Stubb, and Flask Like Starbuck, they are also perspectives used to emphasize Ahab's monomania. Ahab reads his experiences as the result of a scheme against him by some larger force, but Flask thinks and interprets and Stubb believes that he can alter his world.…...

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