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Herman Melville and Moby-Dick(1)


Herman Melville 梅尔维尔 (1819—1891)

Herman Melville
received recognition until the 1920s “He has a very high and noble nature”

Three important things in his life:
1) 2) 3)

Going out to sea His marriage His friendship with Hawthorne

Melville’s Major Works
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from his adventures 1) Typee ?泰皮? among the people 2) Omoo ?欧穆? of the South Pacific islands 3) Mardi ?玛地? an account of 4) Redburn ?雷得本? his voyage to England 5) White Jacket ?白外衣? his life on a United States man-of-war

Melville’s Major Works
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6) Pierre ? 皮埃尔? 7) Billy Budd 《比利?巴德》(a sign that he had resolved his quarrel with God) Clarel 《克拉莱尔》( a poem)

Melville’s Major Works
Moby-Dick
? 白鲸? ,? 莫比?狄克?

an encyclopedia of everything history, philosophy, a Shakespearean religion, the tragedy of man whaling fighting against industry fates

Warm-up questions about MobyDick
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1. Which body part has Ahab lost to Moby Dick? (A) His leg (B) His arm (C) His eye (D) His fingers A

Moby-Dick
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2. What is the name of Ahab’s ship? (A) The Town-Ho (B) The Rachel (C) The Samuel Enderby (D) The Pequod D

Moby-Dick
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3. After what is Ahab’s ship named? (A) Its owner (B) A vanished tribe of Native Americans (C) A species of whale (D) A biblical character B

Moby-Dick
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4. For what were whales primarily hunted? (A) Oil (B) Skin (C) Meat (D) Fins A

Moby-Dick
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5. What does Ahab nail to the ship’s mast to motivate his crew in his quest for Moby Dick? (A) A gold coin (B) A severed head (C) A drawing of Moby Dick (D) A pirate flag A

Moby-Dick
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6. What keeps Ishmael afloat after the Pequod sinks? (A) A coffin (B) A barrel of oil (C) A lifeboat (D) A mattress A

Moby-Dick
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7. What frightens Ishmael the most about Moby Dick? (A) The whale’s size (B) The whale’s teeth (C) The whiteness of the whale (D) The sounds that the whale makes C

Moby-Dick
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8. With what is the Pequod adorned? (A) Sperm whale teeth (B) American flags (C) Red paint (D) Whale fins A

Moby-Dick
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9. From what is Ahab’s false leg made? (A) A whale’s jawbone (B) Wood (C) An elephant’s tusk (D) Leather A

Moby-Dick
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10. How does the Pequod sink? (A) She is rammed by Moby Dick. (B) She is overloaded with oil. (C) She gets lost in a storm. (D) She is rammed by another ship. A

Moby- Dick
一. The historical background 1)This period is marked with tremendous national optimism. However, Melville is one of the few writers who run counter to this optimistic attitude. Moby Dick in particular suggests hidden terrors and incomprehensible tragedy and fatalism in life.

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2.It was an era of expansion. The voyage of the Pequod represents, in a way, this spirit of expansion. 3. This period put a high value on industriousness. The wale ship is a kind of great machine. Perhaps Melville is suggesting that an attempt to subdue nature through technology can be dangerous, or that too much industry aimed at no particular human goal tends to dehumanize men.

Themes of Moby Dick
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Melville's bleak view (negative attitude): the sense of futility and meaninglessness of the world. His attitude to life is “Everlasting Nay” Man in this universe lives a meaningless and futile life, meaningless because futile. Man cannot overcome nature. Once he attempts to seek power over it he is doomed.

Themes of Moby Dick

the adventure of killing Moby Dick is meaningless. Ahab tries to control it, which leads to his doom.
modern life the loss of faith, the sense of futility well expressed in

Moby -Dick

Themes of Moby Dick

2) alienation (far away from each other) exists between man and man, man and society, and man and nature.
Ahab cuts himself off from his family, stays away from his crew, hates Moby Dick and becomes a devil rushing to his doom. He was within “the masoned, walled town of a captian’s exclusiveness”,which leads him to his doom.

Themes of Moby Dick
the basic pattern of nineteenth-century American life

3) loneliness and suicidal individualism

Transcendentalism

Moby Dick is a negative reflection upon
a victim of extreme Ahab: too much of a self-reliant individualism individual to be a good human being

(individualism causing disaster and death)

The price of self-reliance is death.

Themes of Moby Dick

4)rejection and quest Voyaging for Ishmael has become a journey in quest of knowledge and values.
starts out feeling bad hopes to find an ideal life

comes to see the folly of Ahab seeking to conquer nature

learns to accept,an attitude which ensures his survival

feels the significance of love and companionship

Themes of Moby Dick the sense of futility and meaninglessness themes alienation loneliness and suicidal individualism rejection and quest

三、characters
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1. Ahab as a tragic hero 1)Ahab, a noble and highly educated man,acknowledges the limitation of man’s power to know God through his intellect; yet instead of submitting to his weakness, he hopes to transcend it by sheer defiance and exert his power over what he sees. He loses the balance because of the blind and purposeless fury of the whale that eventually destroys him.

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Ahab fails because of his deprivation of humanity. ? There is a soft side in him, which responds to love, to sympathizing his fellow beings’ suffering. But he constantly suppresses the soft side in him, thus, extinguishing the flame of love and humanity.

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2. Ishmael On another level, Moby-Dick can be regarded as novel dealing with Ishmael’s transformation or mental health. The moral growth of Ishmael in the form of a journey is a demonstration of Melville’s philosophical view of life. Ishmael enters the story as a social outcast, reminding us biblically of Abraham’s illegitimate son who is disinherited and cast out of the palace. During the voyage, he gets to know all kinds of people and builds up a friendship with Queequeg.

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The warmth and love he gets from Queequeg is humanizing in his ruthless hunt for whales. In the end, he is saved by Queequeg’s coffin, symbolizing a restoration to humanity. Ishmael has transformed from a pessimistic man with a dark view if life into someone who, capable of love and sympathy, accepts life for what it is and makes the most of it.

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Ishmael is crucial to understand Ahab., because he contrasts with Ahab in many ways.

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1) Ishmael wishes to understand the meaning of the world and is dismayed by the terrifying vacancy of life’s mysteries, while Ahab determines to transcend this understanding and make the world all over again to his own specifications. 2) Ishmael turns from indifference to human love, whereas Ahab is entrapped in that cold hostility. So the one that survives the wreckage should be Ishmael.

Symbols in Moby Dick ? ? ? ? ? ? ? The land The sea The voyage The Pequod Moby Dick Ahab Queequeg’s Coffin

Symbolism in Moby-Dick
1) 2) 3) 4) Land : a symbol of safety Sea: adventure and danger The Pequod: the human world The voyage tends to imply the voyage of mind searching for truth and knowledge of the forces working in the universe that control men and their destiny.

The Pequod
named after a Native American tribe in Massachusetts did not long survive the arrival of white men (extincted)

is painted gloomy black and covered in whale teeth and bones

like a primitive coffin

a symbol of doom

the mementos of violent death

? 5)Moby Dick, the white whale: the most difficult symbol of all, which can be interpreted in different ways and means different things for different people. ? I. Ahab: the whale is either an evil creature itself or the agent of an evil force that controls the universe, or perhaps both. ? II. The reader: ? 1)a symbol of the physical limits that life imposes upon man. ? 2)a symbol of nature, or an instrument of God’s vengeance upon evil man.

? III.Ishmael: the whale has multiple

implications. It is an astonishing force, an immense power, which defies rational explanation due to a sense of mystery it has. ? It also represents the tremendous organic vitality of the universe.

Moby Dick
is hidden all the time unknown and unknowable truths only the surface of the ocean is available for human observation and interpretation inscrutable, mysterious

mirrors its enviorment

the depths conceal unknown truths

a metaphor for the human relationship with the Christain God: God is unkown and cannot be pinned down

Moby Dick
various symbolic meanings
to the pequod’s crew a concept onto which they can display their anxiety about dangerous and frightening jobs to Ahab a manifestation of all that is wrong with the world It is his destiny to get rid of this symbolic evil

Queequeg’s Coffin
? 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. He perpetuates the knowledge tattooed on his body by carving it onto the coffin’s lid. ? The coffin further comes to symbolize life when it replaces the Pequod’s life buoy. When the Pequod sinks, the coffin becomes Ishmael’s buoy(浮标), saving not only his life but the life of the narrative that he will pass on.

Writing style
(1) His works are symbolic and metaphorical. voyage- "search and discovery, the search for the ultimate truth of experience." the Pequod -the ship of the American soul Moby Dick---a symbol of evil
goodness both

its whiteness--- paradoxical color death and corruption purity, innocence, and youth

Writing style
(2)He manages to achieve the effect of ambiguity through employing the technique of multiple view of his narratives. Moby Dick is portrayed for the reader from different angles. The author is unwillingness to commit himself, and the reader is thrown upon himself for judgment.

Writing style
(3) He tends to write periodic chapters (掉尾章的手法). the last paragraph of chapter one pulling all things into one sentence is a good illustration in point.


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