Moby-Dick | Study Guide

Herman Melville

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Course Hero. "Moby-Dick Study Guide." October 13, 2016. Accessed July 23, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Moby-Dick/.

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Course Hero, "Moby-Dick Study Guide," October 13, 2016, accessed July 23, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Moby-Dick/.

Moby-Dick | Chapter 31 | Summary

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Summary

Stubb tells Flask about a dream he had: Captain Ahab kicked him with his whalebone leg, and Stubb kicked back, but in doing so, his own leg came off. In the dream, he realized that getting kicked with a whalebone leg is more like getting hit with a cane, which is not as humiliating as getting kicked with a living leg. As Stubb is relating his dream, Ahab shouts out, "There are whales hereabouts! ... If ye see a white one, split your lungs for him!" Stubb and Flask are not sure what to make of this.

Analysis

In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio describes the fairy Queen Mab as the "fairies' midwife," saying she visits men and women in their sleep and that her presence gives birth to dreams. Mercutio's point is that Romeo's foreboding dreams are likely nothing more than the pranks of Queen Mab, not to be taken too seriously. As the title of this chapter, this reference may suggest that Stubb's dream, even though it is about Captain Ahab, may just be a silly dream, not a prophetic one. However, it should be noted that Romeo's foreboding dream does seem related to the tragic end of the play. In that case, what is passed off as a silly dream might actually foretell a tragic end.

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