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

This last part of the brilliant conference on Moby Dick begins with a continuation of the discourse on materialism in the American way of life. Dr. White discusses how materialism stunts personality and how, in our culture, even rebels against the bland comfort of common life all rebel the exact same way. The point is made that true, healthy diversity and individualism can come only from the Catholic Faith. Dr. White then makes a thorough investigation of the Calvinistic conception of God against which Melville protests in Moby Dick through the character of Captain Ahab. He shows that Ahab’s fury against this Calvinist God is justified, going through three aspects of the Calvinist religion which alienate men from God. The natural responses to this alienation, worship of nature and destruction of nature, are then discussed and Captain Ahab’s adherence to the latter response analyzed. Dr. White explains the nature of Ahab’s madness; he has a “great madness,” stemming from a very legitimate cause. The end of the novel and of the lecture is reached as Dr. White discusses Ahab’s last words and the death of him and his crew.

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