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Gargi Patra
05-12-2007, 01:55 AM
Hi, I am reading Moby Dick now. I have a question on Captain Ahab. Can Ahab be regarded a tragic hero ? And how ?

Silvia
05-12-2007, 08:24 AM
Hi Gargi Patra!
In my latest test I have been asked if Ahab is a romantic hero, and the answer was yes because he keeps on fighting agains heaven although he knows he is bound to lose anyway. I think this may be also what makes him a tragic hero. The language he uses, his long and intense monologues, the emotional content of his speeches (for example in the chapter in which he tries to get the rest of the crew to join him in his mad quest) reveal Shakespeare's influence on Melville's work.
But maybe someone here who has analised Melville better than I have will give you a more complete answer!:)

JCamilo
05-12-2007, 08:33 PM
A Tragic Hero is not someone who uses monologues, etc. It is not a matter of style but destiny. A tragic hero is the one which fate is determinated, no matter what he does. So, in a sense, Ahab destiny is bound to the whale, but he does not actually try to avoid his detiny, rather seek it. So, he is not exactly the tragic hero, maybe a romantic version of it...

NickAdams
05-12-2007, 09:06 PM
Hero?
Ahab is destined by his nature.

Gargi Patra
05-14-2007, 08:56 AM
Thanks Silvia for the points you gave me. I have Moby Dick in my special paper and right now handling the topics of Captain Ahab, symbolism in Moby Dick. Thanks again, on the baseof your hints I am trying to write down the answer on Captain Ahab

Gargi Patra
05-14-2007, 09:01 AM
Hero?
Ahab is destined by his nature.

Thank you NickAdams for reading my thread and answering it. But can you please explain what you meant by the line you wrote ? I am sorry, if I am bothering much.

Gargi Patra
05-14-2007, 09:26 AM
A Tragic Hero is not someone who uses monologues, etc. It is not a matter of style but destiny. A tragic hero is the one which fate is determinated, no matter what he does. So, in a sense, Ahab destiny is bound to the whale, but he does not actually try to avoid his detiny, rather seek it. So, he is not exactly the tragic hero, maybe a romantic version of it...

Thank you JCamilo for the reply. But I am having problem in accepting your opinion. Do you really think that to seek the white whale and kill it was Ahab's destiny ? Rather I think, Ahab's destiny was to live a cripple's life. He gave himself a vengeful purpose to avoid that destiny. His "monomania" gave him a power by which he can change the course of his life. Bu, anyway, thanks again for the reply.

JCamilo
05-14-2007, 09:41 PM
His destiny is neither - his destiny is too seek the whale and be killed by it, not kill it ;) :P
Not be a cripple by far, that is just a detail of his destiny. It is like saying Aedipus destiny was to be blind, that was just a consequence of his tragedy, which was kill the father and marry the mother.
And in the end, he does not change it, the best he tries to defy destiny, the worst he ends (and that is the tragic hero story)

NickAdams
05-14-2007, 11:19 PM
A tragic hero is a character in a work of fiction (often the protagonist) who posesses a tragic flaw which eventually leads to his or her defeat.

Sounds like Ahab.

Aristotle once said that "A man doesn't become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall." An Aristotelian tragic hero must have four characteristics:

Nobleness (of a noble birth) or wisdom (by virtue of birth).
Hamartia (translated as tragic flaw, somewhat related to hubris, but denoting excess in behavior or mistakes).
A reversal of fortune (peripetia) brought about because of the hero's tragic flaw.
The discovery or recognition that the reversal was brought about by the hero's own actions (anagnorisis).

Some other common traits characteristic of a tragic hero:

Hero must suffer more than he deserves.
Hero must be doomed from the start, but bear no responsibility for possessing his flaw.
Hero must be noble in nature, but imperfect so that the audience can see themselves in him.
Hero must have discovered his fate by his own actions, not by things happening to him.
Hero must see and understand his doom, as well as the fact that his fate was discovered by his own actions.
Hero's story should arouse fear and empathy.
Hero must be physically or spiritually wounded by his experiences, often resulting in his death.
Ideally, the hero should be a king or leader of men, so that his people experience his fall with him.
The hero must be intelligent so he may learn from his mistakes.

Gargi Patra
05-15-2007, 09:21 AM
Thank you NickAdams for such details. Yes I read Aristotle's "Poetics" and know his view on tragic hero. Now I am trying to relate the points with Ahab. But the problem is Ahab's misfortune does not arouse pity though his death arouse fear. Well, I may be wrong of course. Thanks a lot again for the trouble you took to reply me.

Gargi Patra
05-15-2007, 09:24 AM
His destiny is neither - his destiny is too seek the whale and be killed by it, not kill it ;) :P
Not be a cripple by far, that is just a detail of his destiny. It is like saying Aedipus destiny was to be blind, that was just a consequence of his tragedy, which was kill the father and marry the mother.
And in the end, he does not change it, the best he tries to defy destiny, the worst he ends (and that is the tragic hero story)

Thanks JCamilo for your answer. I think I got your point. I will remember these points while writing my answer.

JCamilo
05-15-2007, 12:49 PM
I think Gargi, a guide to consider him a tragic hero passes by your interpretation of Moby Dick. If you consider Ahad and the Whale an allegory of a human trying to challenge god's (which is one of the possible interpretations), you can see him a moderm - or romantic to be more precise - (so, not all elements of Tragic hero that Nick Adams presented must be present) tragic Hero. If your interpretation is another one it may be possible to see him just as a waste. But consider the biblical influence in Melville's writings...
Anyways, I would not say Ahab is the archetypical Tragic Hero, but it can be view as one of them, just to let things clear.

NickAdams
05-15-2007, 01:16 PM
Jcmilo is right. Not all the elements need to be applied. We consider Romeo and Juliet a tragedy, but the story doesn't contain all the elements. The first thing that goes out the window, in contemporary fiction, is the hero being noble.

Gargi Patra
05-17-2007, 09:00 AM
Yes, NickAdams and JCammilo, you both are right. Ahab is not an archetypal tragic hero. There are some qualities of tragic hero in him but he cannot be said to have all of them. So I think the idea of a tragic hero is problematised in him. Thanks a lot both of you.

quasimodo1
07-27-2007, 06:52 PM
New book on the history of whaling in the US gives some insight into the characters on the Pequod. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/29/books/review/Barcott-t.html?8bu&emc=bu This article gives up enough but the book looks like a fascinating read. quasimodo1