Moby Dick By Herman Melville Please prepare to begin our study of Moby Dick by Herman Melville

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Moby Dick

Please prepare to begin our study of Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

  • Please prepare to begin our study of Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

Main Characters

Main Characters

  • Captain Ahab  - The egomaniacal captain of the Pequod. Ahab lost his leg to Moby Dick.

Main Characters

  • Mr. Starbuck  - The first mate of the Pequod, Starbuck seems the voice of reason and sanity in contrast to Ahab’s growing madness, yet exemplifies respect, loyalty and compassion for Ahab, the crew, and even the white whale.

Main Characters

  • Moby Dick  - The great white whale
  • Major symbol of the story

Main Characters

  • Queequeg  -  “Starbuck’s skilled harpooner and Ishmael’s best friend. Queequeg was once a prince from a South Sea island who stowed away on a whaling ship in search of adventure. He is a composite of elements of African, Polynesian, Islamic, Christian, and Native American cultures. He is brave and generous, and enables Ishmael to see that race has no bearing on a man’s character.”
  • (excerpted from

Secondary Characters

  • Stubb  - The second mate of the Pequod.

Secondary Characters

  • Tashtego  - Stubb’s harpooner.

Secondary Characters

  • Flask  - The third mate of the Pequod.

Secondary Characters

Secondary Characters

  • Fedallah  - A strange, “oriental” …whom Ahab has brought on board in secret for the sole purpose of killing the white whale. He is an “almost supernaturally skilled hunter and also serves as a prophet to Ahab.”

Secondary Characters

  • Captain Peleg and Captain Bildad —The principal owners of the Pequad (they hire Ishmael and Queequeg)

Secondary Characters

  • Father Mapple  - A former whaleman and now the preacher in the New Bedford Whaleman’s Chapel

Major Themes

  • Whaling as a metaphor for life
  • Alienation
  • Friendship
  • Loyalty and obedience
  • Man’s search for knowledge
  • Man’s search for control over nature
  • Fate
  • Obsession



  • Where your story takes place is just as important as the story’s plot or the characters themselves. Setting draws the reader further into the story world by creating or intensifying mood. They story’s setting is also a significant part of its architecture. It frames the narrative’s meaning (theme) and often reflects the internal lives of the characters. Sometimes setting can even act as a symbol in the story.


  • In a well-developed and insightful essay, analyze the various functions of setting that apply to your text (mood, characterization, symbol). Be sure to also discuss how setting reflects significant themes. Use evidence from the story to support your claims.

Please take out your Moby Dick film notes packets. We will watch the first half of the film today.

  • Please take out your Moby Dick film notes packets. We will watch the first half of the film today.
    • Tomorrow: Independent reading—bring your book (10 points).
    • Please take home your reading projects today.
    • Advanced Placement applications due NLT Friday.

Biblical allusion - Parable of Jonah and the Whale Told in Father Mapple’s sermon THINK: What is the lesson people are supposed to learn from the parable of Jonah? How is that story—and that lesson--related to the story and the characters in Moby Dick?

  • “Jonah was a prophet from Galilee and his story takes place somewhere between 780 B.C and 760 B.C. During this period of history, Assyria was a powerful, evil nation and Israel’s most dreaded enemy. The Lord spoke to Jonah and told him to go to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, and preach to the Ninevites. (Jonah 1:2) Jonah was supposed to warn the Ninevites to repent or suffer the consequences of their wickedness…Jonah had other ideas, though. Instead of heading for Nineveh, he took off for Tarshish, Spain. His motives could have been fear or revenge or both. The Assyrians had committed terrible atrocities against the people of Israel: traveling into their midst would have been frightening. Jonah also despised the Assyrians and probably would have liked to see God punish them. Yet, Jonah knew God’s nature. He knew that if he preached repentance to the Ninevites, they would repent and God would spare them. (Jonah 4:2)”
  • “Jonah hops on a boat headed for Tarshish, attempting to hide out from God. At night, a huge storm comes up and tosses the boat wildly. The sailors are afraid and all start to pray to their gods, while Jonah sleeps soundly below deck. (Jonah 1:4-6) The captain goes down to Jonah’s cabin and pulls him out of bed. “And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.’ So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.” (Jonah 1:7).
  • “The sailors all question Jonah about what he’s done to bring this storm on them. He confesses that he is running away from the Lord’s will and tells the sailors to throw him overboard to spare their lives. This they do. (Jonah 1:8-15)”
  • “As Jonah is sinking into the sea, a big fish (whale) swallows him. (Jonah 1:17) The story says that God intervenes and spares Jonah’s life. Jonah sits in the whale’s belly for three days and nights. He spends that time in prayer thanking God for saving him. He is sincere in his prayer and God tells the whale to spit Jonah out on shore. (Jonah 2:1-10)”

Parable of Jonah and the Whale Bible Story

  • “Jonah in sailors' superstition
  • A long-established expression among sailors uses the term “a Jonah" as meaning a person (either a sailor or a passenger) whose presence on board brings bad luck and endangers the ship. This presumably arose from Christian sailors taking the Biblical story of Jonah at face value.
  • Later on, this meaning was extended to "A Jonah" referring to "a person who carries a jinx, one who will bring bad luck to any enterprise.” (from


  • charisma (noun) – personal magnetism, charm or power of emotional persuasion
  • charismatic (adj) – uses personal magnetism, charm or power of emotional persuasion (charisma) to motivate and inspire people.
    • Ahab is a charismatic leader.
  • malice (noun) – intent to harm
    • If you do something with malice, you intended to cause harm.
    • If you are absent of malice, it means you did not intend to cause harm.
  • fluke (noun)
    • 1. one side of a whale’s tail.
    • 2. a stroke of luck; a chance happening; an accident.
      • It was a fluke that a man found my stolen wallet in the bushes.

St. Elmo’s Fire

  • A form of luminous corona discharge that sometimes occurs during electrical storms.
  • St. Elmo is the patron saint of sailors.

St. Elmo’s Fire

  • “St. Elmo’s Fire is a luminous discharge of electricity extending into the atmosphere from some projecting or elevated object. It is usually observed (often during a snowstorm or a dust storm) as brush-like fiery jets extending from the tips of a ship's mast or spar, a wing, propeller, or other part of an aircraft, a steeple, a mountain top, or even from blades of grass or horns of cattle. Sometimes it plays about the head of a person, causing a tingling sensation. The phenomenon occurs when the atmosphere becomes charged and an electrical potential strong enough to cause a discharge is created between an object and the air around it. The amount of electricity involved is not great enough to be dangerous. The appearance of St. Elmo's fire is regarded as a portent of bad weather. The phenomenon, also known as corposant, was long regarded with superstitious awe.” (

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