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Moby Dick - Call Me Ishmael

Updated on July 2, 2018

Life ... And The White Whale

A story of revenge it is! ... Revenge! ... Desired by many, Sought by many, brings certain disaster if pursued.

There are many factors that generate and nurture this thirst. The thirst for revenge.

Being a victim of an injustice, helpless and unable to reciprocate or balance the equation fuels this desire incessantly and makes it lasts long ... often lasts long enough to cause irrevocable damage to both sides.

How is life valued for one who thirsts for revenge? Some would gladly risk their lives for the purpose of revenge. The fire which burns within, and only those who know what it is, know what they would risk, in order to accomplish this wonderfully relieving thing called revenge, or to get even.

Risk everything you've got, to take revenge. Risk your family, property, wealth, dignity, just about anything at all.

What does it matter if you risk your life? My life for yours, that is the spirit of revenge.

Risk somebody else's property, life, or whatever that is accessible to you. Blast your revenge at him, her and even "It." Spare not man or beast ... or even a creature of the sea!

A sea creature? Yes of course, an inhabitant of the sea. This story is about the revenge that man attempts to take on a fish. Just a mere fish, but large. Large enough to sink a dozen ships.

Of Whaling And Whalers - The Story Begins

The fish has a name, yes he's got a name, Moby Dick.

Captain Ahab was just like everyone. He had a job. Captain of a whaling mission. Captain of a whaler.

Whaling was a dangerous occupation, yet there were those brave enough to undertake the most dangerous of all occupations, just for knowledge, just for experience, just for kicks.

Captain Ahab had a family like everyone. Captain Ahab had a mission statement like everyone. Captain Ahab had a foot unlike everyone. The other one was bitten off by Moby Dick on one of his whaling missions.

He swore to take revenge, not aloud though. His opportunity to sail again came when the whaling season re-commenced. Captain of the Pequod. Captain Ahab set his sights on that big fish. "Moby Dick, you bastard, I'll get you," he kept muttering to himself.

Fortunately the owners of the ship that he was commissioned to lead were not within earshot. Otherwise Ahab would not have had the opportunity to make this voyage of a lifetime, and this story would never have been written.

On Board The Pequod - That Fateful Cruise

The command to weigh anchor was hardly heard by the rest of the crew than those who were connected to the task. They set sail full of hope.

Whaling brought adventure as well as wealth. Ahab set sail full of hope, to get even with that bastard of a fish.

Moby Dick, I'll get you even if I have to follow you right down to the depths of hell! Moby Dick, I'll show you who Ahab is! Moby Dick, your days are numbered! Ahab, yes none other than Ahab is after you!

The first view of Captain Ahab that the crew members had was weeks after they weighed anchor.

That day he announced that a gold coin was the prize for whoever who first spots a giant white whale. Ahab then nails the coin on to the mainmast.

Thar She Blows - Lower Every Boat

"Thar she blows!" yells the watch and every single boat is lowered and a chase begins.

This is a whaling crew, and when they do spot a whale they've got to catch it. This was not Moby Dick, just a whale. The experienced crew go after it and catch it.

Ahab stares ahead. When will it be? More whales are captured by the skilled crew and more does Ahab yearn. Revenge is his mission.

As fate had arranged it all, that gold coin found its way back to Ahab himself. For, it was he, who spotted that big white fish first.

Moby Dick

The chase begins at once. Boats are lowered, and the head harpooner is none other than Ahab himself. A skilled whaler, skilled enough to captain many a whaling vessel.

The other harpooners have had their chances in previous catches. Each one of them satisfied that he was able to make some contribution.

Ahab leads now. Harpoon ready. You need immense strength to throw a harpoon several meters away, and you need immense skill to strike your target, and you need immense courage to be on board a vessel which requires that you undertake to do both, throw a harpoon as well as strike the target.

On board that ship were many who could throw a harpoon and hit an object like a coin dozens of meters away. That was the criterion required to board a whaler as a harpoonist.

Captain Ahab Throws ...

Ahab leads, from the front. There he is, with harpoon in hand, linked with yards and yards of thick rope.

All you need is to throw the harpoon at the intended target, when it does strike the target, the jerk that indicates that this has happened tells the other crew members what the next step is.

They act not only by instinct but also by experience.

Whaling does need an experienced crew. Ahab had them. Ahab was experienced, conditioned, and brave too. Yet there was another force that drove him. Revenge.

This force drives its possessor like hell, on full throttle and also places obstacles in the possessor's line of vision. Reasoning and judgment can fade too and this will make any mission less likely to succeed as the error potential is increased.

Ahab's boat is now zeroing in on Moby Dick. Rowing around the whale, Ahab's judgment on positioning cannot be matched.

At last, the moment has come. The moment that Ahab has been waiting for a very long time ... for years and years. That very moment which will result in fulfilling the yearning of a lifetime.

A lifetime indeed. Dreaming, scheming, planning, and now nearing. The seconds have gone by. The countdown began when the boat was lowered.

An excited captain throws, with all his skills of judgment, and physical strength, and throws he does, the harpoon.

Strikes it does. The exact target? Not really, but it does strike that big white fish, and the harpoon, the very harpoon so sharp and so well maintained that Ahab even used it to shave with, penetrates the flesh of that big white fish.

Big enough to sink twelve schooners, Moby Dick reacts. Moby Dick lashes his tail furiously, the very first twitch of which smashes Ahab's boat to smithereens.

Then he heads for the main ship, the Pequod. How did he know that this was the very ship that had brought Ahab to his den?

There was only one survivor and it was he who narrated the story. Call him Ishmael.

... concluded

Herman Melville And One Of The Greatest Novels Ever Written

You have just read a review of what has been rated as one of the greatest novels of all time in the English language.

Well known is the fact that Moby Dick is hailed by millions of literary critics as one of the best books ever written.

It is an adventure story written by one of the greatest English novelists of all time, Herman Melville.

Trapped by the forces that propel the pursuit of revenge is the main character captain Ahab.

In his quest to capture and kill that big white whale to seal what he calls the final blow that could balance an old equation, Ahab falls prey to his own emotions.

Moby Dick is a story of revenge and is undoubtedly one of tne of the greatest novels ever written.

Herman Melville was born in New York on the 1st of August 1819. His first voyage was on board a vessel bound for London. He had secured a job for himself as a cabin boy.

It was in 1841 that he set sail on a whaling ship, the Acushnet. He had later experienced many voyages on whaling ships as a harpooner.

The author of many works, Herman Melville also wrote another very popular bestseller, Typee.

Moby Dick was published in October 1851.

"Call me Ishmael," That's how the story starts. Ishmael was the sole survivor in the adventure involving the Pequod, Captain Ahab and the big white whale.

© 2009 quicksand


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    • quicksand profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Okay Joseph, you know best! Thanks for your valuable comments ... Cheers!

    • profile image

      Joseph Pedulla 

      5 years ago

      The above is not a review; it's a summary. It misses one thing entirely: the way Ahab dies is glossed over. He does not die because of the whale's tail; he dies because he is yanked out of the boat when the rope encircles his neck. He is dragged down into the water by the whale and surfaces, eerily strapped to Moby Dick's body by yards and yards of uncoiled rope. Moby Dick becomes his "hearse." There is so much more to the book than is contained in the above essay. The attempt seems to be to make the novel sound cool and accessible to the modern taste for "cool." It is anything but that. If Ahab were to appear on a modern talk show, he would blanch the hair of each audience member with his flint face and his cosmic declamations. He would not be invited back. If he were asked, "How are you?" he would respond, "Die."

    • quicksand profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago

      Thanks Camping Dan, If you really liked Moby Dick, you must check out Melville's other classic "Typee." You could read it online. Thanks for the comments! :)

    • Camping Dan profile image

      Camping Dan 

      11 years ago

      As a kid my school made me read Moby Dick but at the time it was not really something I was into. But now that I have grown I find that I really like Melville and his works. Nice hub on a classic book.

    • quicksand profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago

      Hi Wanderer, At first I had a simplified version, and that is what made the original version interesting. Of course many years later! :) Thanks for your visit.

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 

      11 years ago from Singapore

      I remembered reading Moby Dick when I was a teenager. Can't remember too much about the story. But I did remember thinking that although Mr Melville's writing might be great, but his paragraphs were WAY too long! :)

    • quicksand profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago

      Hi Nancy! Captain Ahab was an interesting character indeed. Thanks for making a comment! :)

    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 

      11 years ago

      Moby Dick and The Old Man and The Sea are both great reads...Nice hub!

    • quicksand profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago

      Hi BeatsMe, Moby Dick has been assessed as one of America's best ever novels, and this assessment came many years after Herman Melville's death. Thank you for checking out my hub. :)

    • BeatsMe profile image


      11 years ago

      Wow. When I first read Moby Dick. I never understood a word in it, with all the old english the book was using. I quickly lost interest. Now, I understand the story, thanks to you. :)

    • quicksand profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago

      Wow! I am honored that you were the first to comment, and I am glad that you liked the review. Thanks a lot, Shal! :)

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      11 years ago from India

      I'm honoured to be the first to comment - great review quicksand - that's one of my favourite books and I love the way you've managed to get a racy feel to the review - almost like it is a movie!


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