What are some gothic elements in the book Moby Dick?

Also does what are some of the common these is Herman Melville's works? Please note, for my second question do not answer gender and sexuality, because that off of wiki. Thank You, in advance.

1 Answer

  • 9 years ago
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    Moby Dick is perhaps the greatest of Gothic novels, and an almost perfect example of the form. In the microcosmic world of the whaling ship Ahab is the completely dominant villain-hero. He is a figure of immense stature, a good man, a kindly man of real humanity (witness his relations with Starbuck), but a man gripped by a deadly monomania which will destroy him and his companions with him. Symbolic-critical readings of the book always break down after a certain point, for like other Gothic novels Moby Dick ends in moral ambiguity; there is no message, no moral, no final statement of right and wrong. Moby Dick is for Ahab what the monster is for Frankenstein. In the literal sense he is only a whale, and Ahab's vengeance is ridiculous. In a symbolic sense, who can say? The white whale may be the symbol of evil in the world -- or not. Ahab is a madman, and yet he remains a complex and tragic figure. Like Melmoth he wilfully persists {288} in his own delusion, Yet he succeeds in carrying his crew with him, and the reader follows, irresistibly drawn into a mad and exalted quest. Ahab is a Promethean figure: if the sun insults him, he will strike at it, come what may. Very skillfully, Melville involves the reader with Ahab; we follow the narration of Ishmael into the situation, and then the narration vanishes, leaving us immersed in Ahab's world. In a similar manner we are drawn by Lockwood's narration into the self-contained world of Wuthering Heights. Both books leave us with great ambiguities; good and evil, love and hate are intertwined until they are inseparable. Motives which we might praise or blame without a second thought in our everyday worlds appear to us in the Gothic context as beyond judgment. We are brought to see the hurts of Ahab and Heathcliff, to appreciate their complexities, and ultimately to decline judgment on the damage they do to themselves and to others. As is the case with Melmoth, tragic stature compensates for apparent inhumanity http://www.english.upenn.edu/Projects/knarf/Articl...

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