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Melville Outline - Ryan Pool Mrs Seale Eng IV 1 Nov 2010...

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Ryan Pool Mrs. Seale Eng IV 1 Nov 2010 Melville’s Madman Melville creates a focal point of the novel through the incredible hatred that Ahab holds against Moby Dick. This driving theme is formed by a previous encounter between Ahab and the whale. The whale’s attack on Ahab is recounted in the book when Melville describes the incident remarking, “ … that suddenly sweeping his sickle-shaped lower jaw beneath him, Moby-Dick had reaped away Ahab’s leg, as a mower a blade of grass in the field” (164). Kevin Hayes observes that Ahab’s developing madness possesses two distinct stages; the first being “ … the fury of his futile single-handed attack on the whale …” and the second stage, which comes after Ahab’s injury, when “ … Ahab becomes insane” (187). Melville uses the loss of Ahab’s leg as the seed of Ahab’s monomania and obsessive hate for Moby-Dick. The actual injury inflicted by Moby is not the sole reason for hate, but from this injury grew a single tree of hate and anger. Melville shows the first repercussions to Ahab’s injury when he states that Ahab “ … probably but felt the agonizing bodily laceration…” but did not feel truly injured until “ … [his injury] forced to turn towards home…” (165). Eyal Peretz speaks on this subject commenting, “Ahab’s wound … is for him not just the actual and painful cutting open of the body, but is the more significant and painful realization that the body can be cut open” (49). The first psychological injury inflicted on Ahab comes from the injury of his pride. Melville shows the effect of this injury through the manner that Ahab becomes insulted upon realization that he is not invincible and there is a creature that holds the power to cripple him for the remainder of his life. Melville
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Pool 2 uses a recap of Ahab’s voyage home after the loss of his leg to show that the injury turned Ahab into “ … a raving lunatic …” and the crew mates on his ship “ …were forced to lace him fast” (165). Eyal Peratz tries to explain Ahab’s anger using the reasoning that “since the wound becomes more than a bodily wound, it becomes a crisis of Ahab’s authority …” (49). Ahab’s pride is most seriously assaulted by the fact that he is no longer in control of the fate of his own voyage. Melville uses Ahab’s psychological damages to lay the groundwork for the abhorrence Ahab holds against the white whale. Melville furthers Ahab’s metaphorical seedling of hate and anger into a jungle of monomaniacal obsession over Moby-Dick throughout his voyages. Melville blames the progression of Ahab’s injury into his hate during the voyage home, recounting the time when “Ahab and anguish lay stretched together in one hammock, rounding in mid winter that dreary howling Patagonian Cape …” declaring that this was the time when “ … his torn body and gashed soul bled into one another; and so interfusing, made him mad” (165). It seems that Ahab
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