Moby Dick

Herman Melville's Moby Dick; or, The Whale (1851) describes Captain Ahab of the whaling ship Pequod and his quest to kill the white whale that took his leg on an earlier whale hunt. This self-destructive mission ends with the death of Ahab and his crew, with the single exception of Ishmael, the book's narrator. The novel dramatizes the concerns of American middle-class men in the emerging capitalist marketplace of the mid–nineteenth century. The novel negotiates meanings of bourgeois manhood and same-sex relations, as well as man's precarious relationship to nature.

The characters of the novel and their relations with one another represent two models of Victorian manhood: (1) the traditional ideal of “artisanal” manhood, defined through small-producer values, economic autonomy, and self-sufficiency; and (2) an emerging ...

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