Ahab’s Leg and Moby Dick
Melville uses symbolism in his novel Moby Dick to express his theme. Anti-Transcendentalism plays a large role in his writing as well. Captain Ahab’s leg is a symbol used to express natures mark on man along with anti-transcendentalist ideas. Melville also uses Moby Dick to represent man vs nature. Captain Ahab’s leg and Moby Dick represent anti-transcendentalist ideas and are symbols throughout the story.
Captain Ahab is the captain of the Pequod whaling ship in the story. The singular purpose of the Captain’s whaling mission is to hunt down and kill a whale name Moby Dick. In his previous encounter with Moby Dick the Captain lost his leg to the whale. In place of his real leg the Captain has a prosthetic leg made of out whale bone. The Captain’s bone leg has quite a few meanings. It ...view middle of the document...
This reward offering shows that the Captain will go to the ends of the sea and back in order to have Moby Dick killed. This relates strongly to anti-transcendentalism in the sense of revenge. Revenge is a natural human desire and there is an unbridgeable gap between human desire and human possibilities. The fact that nearly every crew member accepts this bribe shows all humans are inherently sinful.
Moby Dick is the second symbol in Melville’s novel. Moby Dick represents and is significant to anti-transcendentalism in many ways. Due to Moby Dick being a whale he is a representative of nature. A strong symbol he represents is the struggle between man and nature which brings out the evil in humanity. This is shown when the Captain and his crew are attempting to hunt and kill him. Moby Dick being an element of nature is naturally uncontrollable. The lives of the men aboard the Pequod all experience fatal incidents while attempting to kill the whale except Ishmael. Moby Dick’s symbolism in the story is mostly evil. He represents the destructive force of nature. Being a creation of nature Moby Dick harbors his destructiveness and ends the Captains life. Moby Dick is also represented as a God-like creature owning the Captain because of the stealing of his leg. “Moby Dick seemed combinedly possessed by all the angels that fell from Heaven” (Melville 13). This quote suggests that Moby Dick is being controlled by a higher force.
Ahab’s leg and Moby Dick are symbols used throughout the story that also represent anti-transcendentalist ideas. Ahab’s leg and Moby Dick both represent the power of nature and it’s control over man. The Captain’s leg represents the vengeful attitude towards nature man has instilled in them after a traumatic man vs nature event. Moby Dick represents a force untouchable by man, nature. Melville uses symbolism and anti-transcendentalism to convey these ideas throughout the story.