Herman Melville Research Paper

1660 words - 7 pages

Raju Singh
Mrs. McDaniel
American Literature
Herman Melville
Progress is key to living life, but if one is advancing through life with the motivation of revenge, then, in actuality, he or she is truly regressing. Revenge is an extremely corruptive trait. It causes people to do uncharacteristic things that normally would not be done. The perception of right and wrong is blurred and one takes inadvertent actions that may cost friendships, possessions, and even lives. Revenge is often a major motivating factor in the characters that are in the works written during the Dark Romanticism period. One of the most celebrated and influential American authors in history, Herman Melville, was born ...view middle of the document...

The novel was not well received by the public and so Herman changed his lifestyle and became a customs officer; he continued to write poetry but it was not noticed (Merriman). On September 28, 1891 just after midnight, Melville suffered a heart attack and died, leaving Billy Budd in manuscript (Rollyson xxiv). Billy Budd was published posthumously.
Moby-Dick is considered to be one of, if not the, best novels in American history. Harper & Brothers first published it in 1851 in New York. In England, it was published in the same year under the title, The Whale (“Moby Dick”). Melville explores topics and themes that were scarcely spoken of and never even seen in a novel. In the novel, the Pequod, which is the ship, is named after a Native American tribe that was exterminated when the white settlers arrived. It is a symbol of death and doom and foreshadows event that occur later in the novel. Melville brings some very controversial themes to light in the novel. Revenge is one of the main themes of Dark Romanticism and Melville uses it to drive every action taken by Ahab. This is seen early on in the novel as Ahab explains to the crew why he has a peg leg and that he wants to enact his revenge on Moby Dick (Melville 160-161). “Moby Dick is, fundamentally, a revenge tragedy. It’s about one man’s maniacal obsession with vengeance. It’s about finding an object on which to pin all you anger and fear and rage, not only about your own suffering, but also about the suffering of all mankind” (“Moby Dick Themes”). Ahab absolutely will not accept failure in his conquest of Moby Dick and this ideal remains with him throughout the novel until his death. He sacrifices the lives of every crewmember of the ship and only one member, Ishmael, survives the wreckage. Moby Dick represents numerous things based on reading level and interpretation of the story. To Captain Ahab, Moby Dick represents all evil that is in this world. The theme of racial tolerance that Melville placed in this novel was unprecedented to the time of publication. People hardly talked about it and seldom read about it. There is a diverse cast of characters in the novel. It includes a Native American, South Sea Islander, and an African tribesman. There is a sense of racial equality on this ship that was never before seen in texts of the time. Melville does avoid the topic of slavery and the minorities are subordinates to the whites. (“Moby Dick Themes”). In the text Melville writes, “For all his tattoings he was on the whole a clean, comely looking cannibal. What’s all this fuss I have been making about, thought I to myself—the man’s a human being just as I am; he has just as much reason to fear me, as I have to be afraid of him.”(25).
Critics were rather perplexed by Herman Melville. One critic said, “ He didn’t want to be known, but rather to be read” (“Review”). Herman Melville had many outside influences that guided his writing style throughout his years as an author. He is most...

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