Chapter 49: The Hyena

Today we’ve got another nice little short chapter, to bookend the lengthy one from last time.

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We’re going to zoom in on Ishmael, which is something that’s been more and more rare since the launch of the final voyage of theĀ Pequod. Early on, he was the focus of every chapter, our point of view into this new world of whaling, but in the grand scheme of the story being told, he’s not particularly relevant. Continue reading “Chapter 49: The Hyena”

Chapter 45: The Affidavit

Okay, let’s get back into it with a nice, meaty chapter. We’re getting into some interesting metatexutal territory here, blurring the line between Melville and Ishmael.

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Technically, I think this whole thing is just more of Old Ishmael, based on the general tone and tendency towards exhortation and exclamation. But it’s also very much a bibliography slipped into the text itself, and I must say it’s more pleasant to read than the ones you usually see!

Continue reading “Chapter 45: The Affidavit”

Chapter 44: The Chart

Now that we’ve got all the finnicky business of epistemological impossibility out of the way, we have some more practical matters to worry about: how do you find a whale?

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You can sit around thinking and wondering all day, but you’re not gonna get anywhere unless you take action, and Ahab is our man of action in this story. While Ishmael lays and ruminates in his favorite perch among the rigging, Ahab is busy far below. Continue reading “Chapter 44: The Chart”

Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale

Now that I’ve gotten a bit philosophical, it’s Ishmael’s turn.

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What’s fun, at least to me, about this book is that it takes its own turn at explaining the symbolism and themes. You get a sort of inside perspective on things. I can see why it would be attractive to teachers who want to impart these concepts, but the language is just too challenging for it to really work. A book that is about symbols is going to end up being too convoluted to analyze at a high school level. Continue reading “Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale”

Chapter 41: Moby Dick

So, now that we know what Ahab, Starbuck, Stubb, and the crew in general think of the events of The Quarter-Deck, who could possibly be left to weight in? Is there some important character who has been neglected?

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Oh yes, there is that novice whaleman, named himself after some biblical figure, obviously not his real name, what was it again? Isaiah? Ezekiel? Ishmael! That was it, let’s hear what good ol’ Ishmael has to say about all this. Continue reading “Chapter 41: Moby Dick”

Chapter 40: Midnight, Forecastle

So, now that we’ve checked in on the officer class of the ship (minus Flask, who barely counts), it’s time to see how theĀ rest of the crew is reacting. Since so few of them are actual, established, important characters, they don’t get whole individual chapters, not even the harpooneers.

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But, what they do get is a fun format change! This chapter is written entirely in the style of a stage play. I’ve never heard of it being staged, but I wouldn’t doubt that some high school or college that was particularly arts-oriented has done it once or twice. Continue reading “Chapter 40: Midnight, Forecastle”

Chapter 38: Dusk

Let us now turn our attention to the recipient of Ahab’s fiery, blasphemous words, one Starbuck of Nantucket. How’s he holding up?

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Well, he left the scene fearing for the the soul of himself and everyone else on the ship, so I’m gonna guess “not well”. Alas, Starbuck is doomed to be a tragic figure, as we already know from Ishmael’s preemptive eulogy. Continue reading “Chapter 38: Dusk”

Chapter 35: The Mast-Head

Sorry for the break in updates there, I had a very busy week and then a cold. Still just barely getting over the later, but I had an urge to do some bloggin’.

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So, today’s chapter returns us squarely to non-narrative status, with what amounts to a bunch of whaling trivia, at first glance. It is, in fact, very revealing about the character of both young and old Ishmael. It’s one of the more evocative chapters, getting us back to some of that fun prose we had very early on. Continue reading “Chapter 35: The Mast-Head”

Good Kings and Bad Kings

There are some things in media which only reveal themselves after you are able to articulate them.

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For me, one of the big ones was queer-coded villains. It was like having a veil dropped from my eyes, seeing the way that difference of identity was being codified as cruel and evil, the way that outsider status was subtly equated over and over again with being Bad, in one way or another. Continue reading “Good Kings and Bad Kings”

Chapter 31: Queen Mab

Who doesn’t love a good description of somebody else’s dream? What’s that? Everyone? Everyone doesn’t love that?

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Well, too bad, that’s what this chapter is about. Luckily, while it is rather accurate to vague recollections of dreams in some ways, it is not quite as awful as having to hear about a real dream. This is still a piece of literature, Melville knows what he’s doing. Continue reading “Chapter 31: Queen Mab”