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HERMAN MELVILLE 1819 - 1891
• 1819 born in New York
• 1830 family bankrupt
• 1832-3 family falls apart and
Herman drops out of school
• 1839 1st voyage at sea
• 1841-1848 experiences at sea
and 37 books about them
• 1851 Moby Dick
• 1866-1886 Job in Custom
House; sons die
• 1886 Inheritance
• 1891 H.M. dies
• 1920 H.M. rediscovered as an
• In the days before the discovery of
petroleum, whale oil supplied the fuel
• In addition, the whale was the source
of a bony substance called baleen
used various household products.
• Voyages would often last for four years.
Life on board a whale ship was hard and
killing whales was extremely dangerous.
• Once the harpooners had speared the
whale their boats would be dragged along
by the whale trying to escape.
• Once the whale was dead, it would be
brought on board and its blubber (layer
of fat) would be cut off and all the
valuable parts preserved.
• A whaling ship would typically kill about
40 whales on a four year voyage.
• If you survived the journey, you could
make a lot of money.
Place Key Events
Nantuckets, North America Port for whaling ships where Ishmael meets
Queequeq and finds work on board the
Pequod as a whaler.
The Pequod Whaling ship where most of the drama
Atlantic Ocean Many whales are caught and killed
Moby dick is spotted
The Pequod comes across many ships
Pacific Ocean Moby dick battles with Captain Ahab
The Pequod sinks and everyone on board
drowns except Ishmael
Ishmael is saved by the Rachel
century, maritime era- seamanship
was popular as a trade and profession
because it offered exciting opportunities
for travel and for earning an income.
• Electricity was not discovered yet at this
time. The people relied on oil lamps for
• Whale oil was the cleanest and the best.
• Maritime era – a period when the shipping
and whaling industry was important,
because whale oil brought in immense
• Middle class – the owners of the ships and
• Lower class – the sailors and the local and
• The struggle against
Moby Dick lasts THREE
• On the first day, Ahab
spies the whale himself,
and the whaling boats row
after it. Moby Dick attacks
Ahab’s boat, causing it to
sink, but Ahab survives
the ordeal when he
reaches Stubb’s boat.
Despite this first failed attempt at defeating the
whale, Ahab pursues him for a second day. On
the second day of the chase, roughly the same
defeat occurs. This time Moby Dick breaks Ahab’s
ivory leg, while Fedallah dies when he becomes
entangled in the harpoon line and is drowned.
• When Ahab and his crew reach Moby
Dick, Ahab finally stabs the whale with
his harpoon but the whale again tips
• However, the whale rams the Pequod
and causes it to begin sinking. In a
seemingly suicidal act, Ahab throws
his harpoon at Moby Dick but becomes
entangled in the line and goes down
• Only Ishmael survives this attack,
for he was fortunate to be on a
whaling boat instead of on the
Pequod. Eventually he is rescued by
the Rachel,whose captain is still
looking for his only son, lost at sea.
• Moby dick lives on in the ocean.
Chronology of events in the story
a. Ishmael decides to go to sea.
b. Ishmael meets Queeqeg.
c. A man named Elijah warns Ishmael against joining the crew of
d. Ishmael sees a group of mysterious men join the ship.
e. The Pequod meets a ship (the Rachel) sailed by Captain
Gardiner that has lost a boat during the hunt for the white
f. Ahab sees Moby Dick for the first time.
g. The Pequod is struck by an electrical storm.
h. Fedallah is pulled from his whaling boat by Moby Dick .
i. Moby Dick attacks the Pequod.
j. Queeqeg’s coffin floats to the surface of the sea.
Ishmael .- He survived the fight against Moby Dick.
Captain Ahab .-He wanted to kill Moby Dick.
Queequeg .-He was Ishmael’s good friend.
Starbuck .- He opposed to Ahab’s quest for Moby Dick
and had the chance to kill Captain Ahab, but he didn’t.
Stubb .- He always laughed and told funny stories.
Fedallah .-He was one of Captain Ahab’s men. He
see the future, too.
Captain Gardiner .-He was looking for his son.
• Ishmael - The narrator, and a member of the crew of the
Pequod, not playing a major role in the events of the
novel, but much of the narrative is taken up by his
eloquent, verbose, and extravagant discourse on whales
• Ahab - The egomaniacal captain of the Pequod. Ahab
lost his leg to Moby Dick. He is single-minded in his
pursuit of the whale, using a mixture of charisma and
terror to persuade his crew to join him. As a captain, he
is dictatorial but not unfair. At moments he shows a
compassionate side, caring for the insane Pip and
musing on his wife and child back in Nantucket.
• Moby Dick - The great white sperm whale. Moby Dick,
also referred to as the White Whale, is an infamous and
dangerous threat to seamen, considered by Ahab the
incarnation of evil and a fated nemesis.
Symbols in Moby Dick
• Symbols are objects, characters, figures,
or colors used to represent abstract
ideas or concepts.
• The Pequod: a symbol of doom. It is
painted a gloomy black and covered in
whale teeth and bones, literally bristling
with the mementos of violent death. It is,
in fact, marked for death.
Symbol of Moby Dick
– It has various symbolic meanings for various individuals.
– To the Pequod’s crew, it is a concept onto which they can
displace their anxieties about their dangerous and often very
– Ahab, on the other hand, believes that Moby Dick is a
manifestation of all that is wrong with the world, and he feels that
it is his destiny to eradicate this symbolic evil.
– In its inscrutable silence and mysterious habits, for example, the
White Whale can be read as an allegorical representation of an
– As a profitable commodity, it fits into the scheme of white
economic expansion and exploitation in the nineteenth century.
– As a part of the natural world, it represents the destruction of the
environment by such hubristic expansion.
– Queequeg’s coffin alternately symbolizes life and death.
– Queequeg has it built when he is seriously ill, but when
he recovers, it becomes a chest to hold his belongings
and an emblem of his will to live.
– The coffin further comes to symbolize life, in a morbid
way, when it replaces the Pequod’s life buoy.
– When the Pequod sinks, the coffin becomes Ishmael’s
buoy, saving not only his life but the life of the narrative
that he will pass on.