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Moby Dick and existentialism

el mehdi ennaciri
ennacirimehdi@gmail.com
2016 / 4 / 21

«Call me Ishmael », with this line Herman Melville started his allegorical novel “Moby Dick’’, that recounts the venturous journey of Ishmael. Who is representative of the moderate Christian-the meek who inherits the earth.

The existentialism in Moby Dick :

In Moby Dick, Herman Melville seeked to depict the reality of the world by giving the prominence to miscellaneous subjects such as: the existence, Pain, commitment, revenge, Angst, Passion and beingness. All of the antecedent themes are considered as existential themes that every existential novel is required to have.

Herman Melville shows us that the human being is the one who controls his destiny by portraying Captain Ahab’s rivalry against the vast whale´-or-as it named “Moby Dick”. Captain Ahab endeavor the revenge and kept chasing the whale as he thought that the vendetta was the only thing that matters in the existence.

The whale, of course, was in its own environment, while Ahab´-or-the whole crew were reliant in an entire manner on the technology of that time to remain alive. At that time the seas were the most challenging place for people to live, therefore Moby Dick was the ultimate “man against the element” tale.

Herman Melville tried to discuss different themes in his novel that were the preoccupation of that time, one instance of : the existence of god, good and evil, class and social status from the perspective of the protagonist who did query everything, did not satisfy with the half answers, but also he questioned the axioms and Doubt in them in order of nothing but to find the absolute-utter truth.

Lastly, and without any doubt, Moby Dick contained all the elements who made it an existential literary work if it wasn’t the best of them all.


References :

1- Moby Dick’s introduction from The Harper and Collins edition.
2- Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick´-or-The Whale. New York: Penguin. 2001. -print-




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