Event Title

The Man Who Cried Whale

Session Title

Literature

Presenter Information

Bailey BabbFollow

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor

Kelly Richardson, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of English

Description

Captain Ahab from Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick is an enigmatic character. Perhaps even more enigmatic are the “forces” surrounding his obsession with the Whale. Is Ahab a pawn of fate? Is he a victim to God’s wrath? Is the Whale the embodiment of evil, a supernatural force that curses Ahab? Or is it Ahab’s “monomania,” his madness, that drives him to pursue Moby Dick? If any of these are true, Ahab is not completely at fault for the deaths of the crewmen of the Pequod and instead is a victim to forces beyond his control. This essay seeks to prove that Ahab is in control of Ahab and that he is solely to blame for the tragic ending of his men, his ship, and himself. Each claim to innocence (fate, God, prophecy, curse, the Whale’s supernatural ability, and madness) is called into question. Using the text as well as scholarly research, each of these is vindicated as being the puppeteer behind Ahab’s drive to hunt and kill the Whale. Instead, Ahab is left exposed to the reality that it is his actions and his arrogance that lead to destruction, and that each of these “forces” are truly only shields, used to deflect the full extent of the blame.

Course Assignment

ENGL 310 – Richardson

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

The Man Who Cried Whale

Captain Ahab from Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick is an enigmatic character. Perhaps even more enigmatic are the “forces” surrounding his obsession with the Whale. Is Ahab a pawn of fate? Is he a victim to God’s wrath? Is the Whale the embodiment of evil, a supernatural force that curses Ahab? Or is it Ahab’s “monomania,” his madness, that drives him to pursue Moby Dick? If any of these are true, Ahab is not completely at fault for the deaths of the crewmen of the Pequod and instead is a victim to forces beyond his control. This essay seeks to prove that Ahab is in control of Ahab and that he is solely to blame for the tragic ending of his men, his ship, and himself. Each claim to innocence (fate, God, prophecy, curse, the Whale’s supernatural ability, and madness) is called into question. Using the text as well as scholarly research, each of these is vindicated as being the puppeteer behind Ahab’s drive to hunt and kill the Whale. Instead, Ahab is left exposed to the reality that it is his actions and his arrogance that lead to destruction, and that each of these “forces” are truly only shields, used to deflect the full extent of the blame.