Moby Dick


Herman Melville?s Moby Dick is a novel that uses many forms of religious imagery. Through the adventure of captain Ahab in his search of Moby Dick it describes the battle between the evil powers of the Devil against the good powers of God and Jesus. In this metaphor, the Devil is in Captain Ahab, God is in nature, Jesus is seen in Moby Dick, and mankind is represented by the crew of the Pequod. The voyage of the Pequod represents the journey of mankind on earth until the death of Jesus.
"As they narrated to each other their unholy adventures, their tales of terror told in words of mirth; as their uncivilized laughter forked upwards out of them, like the flames from the furnace; as to and from, in their front, the harpooners wildly gesticulated with their huge pronged forks and dippers; as the wind howled on, and the sea leaped, and the ship groaned and dived, and yet steadfastly shot her red hell further and further into the blackness of the sea and the night, and scornfully champed the white bone in her mouth, and viciously spat round her on all sides; then the rushing Pequod, freighted with savages, and laden with fire, and burning a corpse, and plunging into that blackness of darkness, seemed the material counterpart of her monomaniac commander?s soul." (Melville 463)
This quote shows that the Devil is in Captain Ahab,. The entire quote shows his manipulation of his crew. Words like "flames," "blackness," "howled," and "huge pronged forks" turn the Pequod into a habitation of evil spirits. The influence of the commander can be seen upon these innocent men, whose only mistakes were failing to see the truth behind Ahab?s insane mission. The same idea is stated in Kyle Kombrink?s essay "A Passionate Soul in Hell." Kombrink writes, "The mind set of the captain is then carried over to his crew, so to be unified under a hierarchical structure. His madness becomes their dread and becomes the drive in all on board. The savage comes out in them all." The word savageness shows a hatred of religious morality. Therefore, the men are unholy as they stand on board of their ship that is laden with fire, and burning a corpse, and plunging into the blackness of darkness. All the momentum built up by the rushing of the ship towards the unnamed goal reaches its peak in the last statement , in which we realize that the aspects of the crew are exaggerated about in order to describe something much more evil - the insanity of Ahab himself.
Although his insanity is similar to the appearance of the crew in this excerpt, the meaning is better described in another sentence: "he was intent on an audacious, immitigable, and supernatural revenge." (Melville 202) The purpose of Ahab?s mission is simply that of revenge. It is the same as the case with Satan who never recovered from being thrown out of heaven.
In the first passage there seems to be glimpses of all the characters in Moby Dick. The wind, which is the power behind the ship, its crew, and even Ahab himself can be understood as a representation of God, who is the mastermind of everything. The white bone on which the Pequod chomps might signify the final goal of the captain, which would be for Ahab to chomp on the bones of his destroyed enemy, Moby Dick.
"The hand of fate had snatched all their souls; and by the stirring perils of the previous day; the rack of the past night's suspense; the fixed, unfearing, blind, reckless way in which their wild craft went plunging towards its flying mark; by all these things, their hearts were bowled along. The wind that made great bellied sails, and rushed the vessel on by arms invisible as irresistible; this seemed the symbol of that unseen agency which so enslaved them to the race," (Melville 606)
This quote shows that God is represented by nature. The wind is the force of God that guides the souls of the men. But it is not only a word found inside of Moby Dick it is also found in the Bible. "When God began to create heaven and earth - the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind in the spirit of God sweeping over