View Full Version : Moby Dick as a representative American novel

Gargi Patra
05-18-2007, 12:58 PM
Hi everybody, I need to know how Moby Dick can be treated as an representation of American Frontier, Dream and Democracy. Can anyone help me ?

05-18-2007, 01:17 PM
Melville is a funny guy in many ways. You can say that the crew of Pequod may represent the ethinic variation of America and how they are "equals" under one governament (Ahab), specially since Melville seems to admire the differences even if he pointed how they are un-civilizated once or while (Melville is years before the politically correct).
Anyways, in another of his book, Benito Cereno, he is bordeline racist claiming the black sailors in the book are clearly inferior and yet we can see how he admires some of their qualities. Much like how he advocates the whale hunting and at sametime praises the whale. Much of Melville contradictions are the reasons why his works are not well seen by today's society (too politically correct).
Anyways, you can find links and compare them because it is a toy of language (and depends of what you define America Democracy, Dream, etc) but Moby Dick is certainly not as representative of "America" as Mark Twain books were.

Gargi Patra
05-19-2007, 12:44 AM
Thanks a lot JCamilo. I haven't read Benito Cereno, thanks for mentionig it. But will you please explain the "politically correct" phrase with reference to Moby Dick ?

05-19-2007, 08:14 AM
Quite simple (and Mark Twain suffers a little bit with that too).
In the world of Ecology, Greenpeace, etc - Killing Whales is a big NO. However Melville defends it and there is even a chapter where he mocks the first critics to the whale killing saying that there is so many Whales in the ocean that humankind would never end with them. Melville mind is obviously set in a world pre-Darwin (he is even aware of Darwin, but not of the changes Darwin would cause, such as the notion that specieis can be wipe out of the world).
This turned the book of Melville not "acceptable" by the morality of our society and in many ways he is left aside as anacronic because of this. Politically correct, it is only acceptable books that defend the whales in the same way people complain about the use of "niger" in Mark Twain. An out-placed criticism.
Anyways, western society is extremelly politically correct - the interpretation of the democracy is leading us to "accept all groups" also means not saying anything that can be offensive to any group, leveling the language and ideas in a way that it can be understood by everyone. Controversial, challenging stuff are often set aside.