Ahab parallels this idea when he compares himself to God as the lord over The relationship between Queequeg and Ishmael throughout Moby Dick generally illustrates the prevalent contrast between civilized, specifically. Some critics see Ishmael and Queequeg's relationship not as friendly, but as to ignore the fact that Ishmael compares his relationship with Queequeg to one. Ahab and. Fedallah are paired, and so are Ishmael and Queequeg, each in an Indeed, the relations are mercurial and exceed these pairings as Ishmael becomes .. psychological insight and prudence, the difference, humanly speakings.
It is the way Melville tells the story that makes the novel incomparable. As relentlessly as Ahab chases Moby Dick, so Melville questions the nature of the interaction between the mind and the external world.
Is meaning inherent in the world, or is it imposed? Whiteness becomes one among an infinite number of things to interpret. It would seem that, for Ishmael, whiteness represents above all his own inescapable uncertainties. How are we then to read the question that follows, ending the chapter: How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall?
To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Ahab believes that knowledge of Moby Dick, only achievable through literal confrontation, would give him access to a reality beyond human comprehension.
Yet he may find nothing there but a void. Ishmael approaches the possibilities for knowledge more contemplatively.
Moby-Dick Reader’s Guide
Perhaps Ishmael survives because, although he is just as attuned as Ahab to the elusiveness of truth, his inability to grasp it has not turned into self-consuming madness. At the same time, the novel complicates any simple distinction between Ahab and Ishmael and, by implication, Ahab and the reader. In his need to apprehend truth in some form that is independent of the ever shifting perspective of the individual, how different is Ahab from Ishmael?
Although he fades in importance toward the end of the novel, he is ultimately responsible for saving Ishmael's life. After the Pequod is destroyed, Ishmael survives by clinging to a lifebuoy that had originally been built as a coffin for Queequeg while he was suffering from a fever.
His bald purplish head now looked for all the world like a mildewed skull.
As I live, these covered parts of him were checkered with the same squares; he seemed to have been in a Thirty Years' War, and just escaped from it with a sticker-plaster shirt. Still more, his legs were marked, as if a parcel of dark green frogs were running up the trunks of young palms. He looked like a man who had never cringed and never had had a creditor His [Queequeg's] forehead was drawn out in freer and brighter relief, and looked more expansive than it otherwise would It reminded me of General Washington's head, as seen in popular busts of him.
It had the same long regularly graded retreating, like two long promontories thickly wooded on top. Queequeg was George Washington cannibalistically developed. Ahab, with true manliness, is clearly the dominating force on the ship, and all others act beneath him. The hierarchy is the first superficial manifestation of a need for dominance; it is necessary for the Pequod to function successfully.
Now, the scope of this essay does not include discussion on the abundant sexual imagery present in Moby Dick; I would not go as far as to say what Camille Paglia does in her book Sexual Personae: Ahab may have lost more than a limb in his first encounter with the great leviathan, and indeed his injury seems to be a symbolic emasculation.
His obsession with the whale would then be due to avenging his shattered manhood. By captaining a crew of infidels and savages, Ahab asserts power over his own stifling religion; by defying it, he has stepped away from tradition and given in to his desire for dominance. Starbuck, the First Mate, stands for the rational realistic Ego which is overpowered by the fanatical compulsiveness of the Id and dispossessed of its normally regulating functions.
Tied By Cords Woven of Heart-Strings: A Study of Manhood in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick
David Leverenz, in a book entitled Manhood and the American Renaissance, throws out an opposing point of view to my theory of the need for dominance. Instead of a need to dominate, Leverenz argues that Ahab has a need to be dominated.
In other words, Leverenz believes that Ahab and Ishmael each have an intense self-hate, and a desire to be dominated by a higher, unloving power. While Leverenz may speak the truth about Ishmael,3 I disagree that his assertion applies to Ahab. As I am sure other readers will perceive this passage, Ahab speaks like a man who wishes to dominate, not be dominated. As has been shown, the need for dominance and the need for acceptance are prominent in Moby Dick.
If man craves both acceptance and dominance, then he not only wants to succeed and rule over his fellow beings, but also feels the need to be loved by the very individuals he has asserted supremacy over.
Almost apologetically, man yearns to be put up on a pedestal, worshipped by those who were created by God not to be his inferiors, but his equals. In other words, though all men are supposedly created alike, each secretly longs for the elevation of his own importance in relation to others.
Queequeg - Wikipedia
The epitome of man in Moby Dick, then, is Ahab. If this idea were shared by Melville, then how does his novel compromise this paradox of equality and desire for greatness? Because any crewmember is eligible to receive the coin at voyage end, equality is established between men of different race, religion, age, and background. On the other hand, the doubloon also serves as an agent for Ahab to gain dominance over his crew, considering that without the proper motivation, the crew might not have chosen to abandon their hunt for normal whales.
Egotistical insecurity is not the anxiety induced by trying to impress others or an inferiority complex; rather, it is the belief that you are better than others combined with the fear that you will not be able to show it. What I view to be the main conflict in the novel, Ahab versus whale, arises as a result of this egotistical insecurity.
Ahab believes he must kill the whale because he sees it not as an animal but as a rival, a challenge to his superiority.