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  • 1. Unit 1: Herman Melville’s Moby Dick ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 1 Falquina
  • 2. Unit 1 outline• Herman Melville’s life, works and literary significance• An introduction to Moby Dick (1851)• Movie: Moby Dick, dir. John Huston (1956)• Novel: analysis of chapters 1, 28, 34, 41 ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 2 Falquina
  • 3. 1. H. Melville’s Life, Works and Literary Significance Handout pp. 1-4 The basics: • Heredity but loss of fortune • Works at several odd jobs • Sails on various whaler ships (lives with a tribe in the Marquesas, explores in Tahiti and Eimeo, Honolulu...) • 1844 starts writing, with irregular success, revival from 1919 • Psychological, economic and familiar distress ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 3 Falquina
  • 4. Main worksTypee (1846)Omoo (1847)Mardi (1849)Redburn (1849)White Jacket (1850)Moby Dick; or The Whale (1851) ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 4 Falquina
  • 5. Main works (cont.)Pierre (1852)Israel Potter (1855)The Piazza Tales (1856)The Confidence Man (1857)Battle Pieces (1866)Clarel (1876)Billy Budd (posthumous, 1924) ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 5 Falquina
  • 6. Relevance•“The man who lived among the cannibals”•“The first American literary sex symbol”•Mostly appreciated as author of travel narratives•Not admired for more philosophical works•Criticised for his style and morals•Forgotten in the postbellun literary world•Revival on centennial in 1919•Today: mass consumption of Melville inclassroom and popular culture ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 6 Falquina
  • 7. Main themes• Religion: original sin and evil / innocence• Man in society and nature• Man as maker of his own identity: – Appearances – Mortality – Inability to know the universe – Need for love and his fellow men• Race – civilized/savage• Gender and sexuality – Masculine world ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 7 – Homoerotic overtones Falquina
  • 8. Melville’s influences and styleExperience (sea voyages, whaling)Hawthorne• Influence in Moby Dick (dedicated to Hawthorne): style, quest for the meaning of life…• Melville’s review “Hawthorne and his Mosses” (1850)In common:• obscurity, darkness and pessimism• Romantic concern with good and evil• philosophical ideas and obsessions• Two kinds of audience: the mob and the eagle-eyedDifferences:• Hawthorne: individuals• Melville: philosophical or metaphysical matters (more ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 8 negative view) Falquina
  • 9. Melville’s influences and styleDark Romanticism• Hawthorne, Melville, Edgar Allan Poe• View of Man: moral struggle with evil; feelings and intuition; dark interior• View of God: good v. evil; sin and its psychological effects on people• View of Nature: evil found in setting and symbol; often the supernatural• View of Society: must be reformedShakespeare (Style, poetic diction, verbal exuberance, especially in dramatic monologues)The Bible (Old Testament) ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 9 Falquina
  • 10. An introduction to Moby DickHandout p. 5• Reception and relevance• Context• General interpretation• Plot• Themes• Characters• Narrative voice• Influences, style and tone• Symbolism• Epilogue ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 10 Falquina
  • 11. Reception and RelevanceFrom...“ an ill compounded mixture of romance andmatter of fact. It is a crazy sort of affair, stuffedwith conceits and oddities of all kinds, put inartificially, deliberately and affectedly” (BostonPost, November 20, 1851)To…“The best American novel”“An American classic by the AmericanShakespeare” (common views, today) ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 11 Falquina
  • 12. ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 12 Falquina
  • 13. ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 13 Falquina
  • 14. ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 14 Falquina
  • 15. ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 15 Falquina
  • 16. ContextComing of age of the US (economical, political,social) – definition of Americanness, American democracy, …Mexican-American war 1846-48 andCivil War 1861-65 – Imperialism, liberty, American individualism, race…In literature:•1850s American Renaissance•Debate: American vs. English ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 16 Falquina
  • 17. General interpretationTwo narrative levels:•A voyage on board a whaler which ends tragically•The conflict between human life and nature, thequest for the meaning of lifeVarious possible readings:•Religious symbolism•Adventure story•Nature documentary•(...) ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 17 Falquina
  • 18. PlotInitial situation• Ishmael goes on his first whaling voyage aboard the Pequod.• In New Bedford he meets Queequeg• Introduction of the Pequod crew ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 18 Falquina
  • 19. “How it is I know not; but there is no placelike a bed for confidential disclosuresbetween friends. Man and wife, they say,there open the very bottom of their soulsto each other; and some old couples oftenlie and chat over old times till nearlymorning. Thus, then, in our heartshoneymoon, lay I and Queequeg—a cosy,loving pair” (Chapter 10) ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 19 Falquina
  • 20. PlotConflict• Ishmael is caught up in Captain Ahab’s quest for revenge on the White Whale, Moby Dick.• Ahab makes his first appearance and shows his obsession ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 20 Falquina
  • 21. “Come, Ahabs compliments to ye; come andsee if ye can swerve me. Swerve me? ye cannotswerve me, else ye swerve yourselves! man hasye there. Swerve me? The path to my fixedpurpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soulis grooved to run. Over unsounded gorges,through the rifled hearts of mountains, undertorrents beds, unerringly I rush! Naughts anobstacle, naughts an angle to the iron way!”(Chapter 37) ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 21 Falquina
  • 22. PlotComplication• While Ahab searches for Moby Dick, the Pequod continues everyday whaling activities• Conflict between the official purpose of the ship and Ahab’s secret one ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 22 Falquina
  • 23. PlotBetween Chapter 36 (Ahab’s declaration of his real quest) and Chapter 133 (Ahab sees Moby Dick): – Whale biology, industry, and sea voyages – An extra boat crew – The Pequod’s journey – Bad omensClimax• Captain Ahab sights Moby Dick. ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 23 Falquina
  • 24. ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 24 Falquina
  • 25. Everett HenryThe Voyage of the Pequod from the book Moby Dick by Herman Melville.Cleveland: Harris-Seybold, 1956 ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 25 Falquina
  • 26. “Fashioned at last into an arrowy shape, andwelded by Perth to the shank, the steel soonpointed the end of the iron; and as the blacksmithwas about giving the barbs their final heat, prior totempering them, he cried to Ahab to place thewater-cask near.‘No, no - no water for that; I want it of the truedeath-temper. Ahoy, there! Tashtego, Queequeg,Daggoo! What say ye, pagans! Will ye give me asmuch blood as will cover this barb?’ holding it highup. A cluster of dark nods replied, Yes. Threepunctures were made in the heathen flesh, and theWhite Whales barbs were then tempered.‘Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed innomine diaboli!’ deliriously howled Ahab, as themalignant iron scorchingly devoured the baptismalblood” (Chapter 18) ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 26 Falquina
  • 27. PlotSuspense• The Pequod chases Moby Dick for three days ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 27 Falquina
  • 28. PlotDenouement• Moby Dick destroys the Pequod and nearly everyone on board is killed…• Ahab’s drowning/ strangling death ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 28 Falquina
  • 29. “Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroyingbut unconquering whale; to the last Igrapple with thee; from hells heart I stabat thee; for hates sake I spit my lastbreath at thee. Sink all coffins and allhearses to one common pool! and sinceneither can be mine, let me then tow topieces, while still chasing thee, though tiedto thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I giveup the spear!” (Chapter 135) ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 29 Falquina
  • 30. PlotConclusion• Epilogue: only Ishmael survives to tell the story• He is saved by Queequeg’s coffin ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 30 Falquina
  • 31. Themes•Obession, revenge and madness•Fate and free will•Good/evil•Nature•Truth, knowledge, language•Race•Gender and sexuality ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 31 Falquina
  • 32. Characters•Ishmael•Ahab•Queequeg•Moby Dick•Starbuck•Stubb•Flask•Tashtego•Dagoo•Pip•Fedallah ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez Falquina 32
  • 33. Narrative voice•Ishmael as first person narrator – Central (protagonist) – Peripheral (observer)•Third person narrator, omniscient•Dramatic style ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 33 Falquina
  • 34. Influences, Style and ToneInfluences:•Hawthorne•Shakespeare•Tragedy and medieval romance•Cetology and other areas of knowledgeStyle:•Complex, adorned, metaphorical, exuberant...Tone:•Versatility: thoughtful, elevated, humorous. ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 34 Falquina
  • 35. Symbolism•The Pequod•Moby Dick•The Gold Doubloon•Sperm•Queequeg’s coffin ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 35 Falquina
  • 36. Epilogue“And I only am escaped alone to tell thee” (Job) ILN 2011-2012, Silvia Martínez 36 Falquina