Course Hero. "Moby-Dick Study Guide." Course Hero. 13 Oct. 2016. Web. 5 June 2023. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Moby-Dick/>.
Course Hero. (2016, October 13). Moby-Dick Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Moby-Dick/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "Moby-Dick Study Guide." October 13, 2016. Accessed June 5, 2023. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Moby-Dick/.
Course Hero, "Moby-Dick Study Guide," October 13, 2016, accessed June 5, 2023, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Moby-Dick/.
Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe explains the symbols in Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick.
Ahab's nemesis, Moby Dick (or the White Whale), symbolizes forces beyond human control, including nature, God, and fate. As Ahab's antagonist, it represents impossible goals and works against the free exercise of human will. In Father Mapple's sermon, the whale—or great fish—is an agent of God's wrath and a call to repentance, and so this, too, is a symbolic interpretation of the White Whale. In Ahab's madness, however, the White Whale symbolizes evil personified.
The Pequod is a microcosm of the world and so symbolically represents Earth populated by humanity's diversity. The different men aboard the ship, the dangers it encounters, and the struggles those on board must face all mirror the differences, dangers, and struggles of human life and society. As a small society separated by distance from the rest of humanity, it also represents both isolation and community.
Queequeg's coffin, made while Queequeg is deathly ill, symbolizes at the same time both life and death. Its symbolism of death is obvious, yet within the story it provides life in two cases. Its construction seems to bring comfort to Queequeg, after which he completely recovers, and Ishmael is saved from drowning by its ability to float.