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Melville’s Moby Dick – A Reading and Commentary, Part I

Dr. White continues his discussion of Moby Dick by beginning his analysis of Captain Ahab, whose entrance, he points out, ends the domestic comedy contained in the novel up to that point. He explores the character of Captain Ahab, from the Biblical origins of his name to his personality and his greatness as a tragic character, and touches on the conflict between Ahab and all of nature, even God Himself, as represented by the whale. Dr. White also discusses the picture of American characteristics that continues to be drawn in the novel, covering the conflicting loves of comfort and adventure, religious “toleration” where being “nice” and getting along are the cardinal virtues, and the obsession with money which springs from the excessive love of comfort. Some secondary characters in the book are discussed and their characters briefly examined, along with how and why such a diverse set of men, including an African, a Native American, and a Polynesian, manage to get along together.

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