Why does Melville name so many characters after Biblical figures, and how do their Biblical associations affect our impressions of these characters? Is there any Biblical/religious symbolism in this novel other than the character…
It is the symbol of Melville’s own personality and outlook, which is divided into two contradictory minds; one is logical and empirical while the other mind is completely religious. It is a dilemma or inner conflict of the writer’s mind. Ishmael is Melville’s religious self while Ahab is his scientific self who wants to give up all religious faiths.
One of the characteristics of Moby Dick is its religious interpretation in an allegorical manner. The religious views in this novel are very forward. Melville has depicted various religious traditions. Sometimes he mocks some exaggerated religious views. He has used the blanket term Paganism in his novel. He wants to indicate that many times pagans are more ethical than Christian people.
Melville also has used lot of Biblical symbolism while giving the names to his characters. The name of the narrator is Ishmael, which is also very significant. The word Ish-ma-el means “God shall hear”. Ishmael is a representative of a religious disciple, and he is not an extremist in his religious faith. At the same time, he does not deny God or look at God as his enemy like Ahab. Being close to God, he has seen as an optimistic character while Ahab’s character has a dark shade due to his blindness and hatred towards God. It is the appeal of God to live the life in harmony with nature. Ahab represents the rebellious step of the author’s mind to defy all religious protocol.
There are certain characters that denote the importance of soul. The character of Queequeg for example is an amiable Polynesian harpooner. Queequeg is a God-like figure, with good heart, kindness, generosity, courage and extreme dignity. The protagonist Ishmael’s opinion about him was not good initially. It was because of his appearance. He seemed to be very obnoxious. He felt him a barbarian and a cannibal type of person, but after coming close to him, he came to know the civilized nature of Queequeg. He also realized that the spirit of the ...
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Melville has depicted various religious traditions. Sometimes he mocks some exaggerated religious views. He has used the blanket term Paganism in his novel. He wants to indicate that many times pagans are more ethical than Christian people. Melville is trying to denote the conflict in Ahab’s own religious beliefs.
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