By Cliffs Notes Editors
Whereas the plot of this nice American Novel, the tale of a sea captain's obsession with a white whale, in all fairness hassle-free, the potential interpretations and meanings of it are substantial and unknowable in scope. With its myriad of metaphors, symbols, and characters, Moby Dick is as sizeable because the international itself.
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Additional resources for Melville's Moby Dick (Cliffs Notes)
Soon the vessel enters the cool grey ocean on a dark and misty Christmas day. A small sailboat draws close and Captains Peleg and Bildad, both old sea salts, reluctantly leave. Captain Ahab has not yet appeared. Commentary Chapter XX presents some of Ishmael's fears. He does not like the idea of going aboard without knowing something of the captain. That is, he is going to be under the command of a man for three years and he would have preferred to have seen this man before sailing with him. Then, in Chapter XXI, Ishmael thinks that he sees some ghostly shadows going aboard the Pequod.
This chapter also presents Melville's technique of using the basic story as a vehicle to which he can attach his personal views. Often throughout the novel, the story or facts will be presented only so that a metaphorical statement about life can be made. For example, in Chapter XIII, Melville describes the coming and going of the various ships in the harbor as follows: ". one most perilous and long voyage ended, only begins a second; and a second ended, only begins a third, and so on, for ever and for Page 27 aye.
The Pequod, now in full sail, enters the vast depths and expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Despite the efforts of Starbuck and Stubb to abandon the mad chase, the Pequod plunges ahead. Suddenly a fierce typhoon descends upon the Pequod. The ship's sails are ripped by the raging winds, her decks washed by mountainous waves. The three main mast tips suddenly spout fire casting an eerie glow over the ship. Still Ahab urges the vessel forward. He becomes increasingly impatientdevising a new compass when the storm ruins the regular ship's compass.