Fate In Herman Melville's Moby Dick

Exploring the Concept of Fate in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. Fate is a challenging concept to determine. In one sense, fate shows an unalterable course that a person takes in life; meaning that the incidents in a person's life are pre-ordained and cannot be modified. Another view of fate appears to be best illustrated as a fork in the road: fate maps out a series of paths you can take and, depending on individual choices, an individual can reach this end or that end. It is difficult to say which idea is right, or if either idea is right. It's possible, after all, that life is simply random and this fate takes on no role whatsoever. The many ways to consider fate, I think, is a problem posed in Moby-Dick. Within the relationships between Ahab and the whale, and between Ishmael and Queequeg, there may be little doubt that Melville intends for his reader to feel that certain forces are in work, forces driving a car these characters to a particular end. But from what degree Ahab, Ishmael and Queequeg have control over their destinies is slightly still left to the reader to decide. These men, Melville seems to suggest sometimes, are not without their free will; however, they all seem to place a lot stock in the thought of fate that they feel (perhaps wrongly) bound to what they perceive to be a destined course. In awareness of the idea, the next chapters will be scoured for relevant details: XVI ("The Ship"), XXXVI ("The Quarter-Deck"), CXXXII ("The Symphony"), LXXII ("The Monkey-Rope"), XCIX ("The Doubloon"), CXXXV ("The Chase-Third Day"), and the epilogue. The intent here is to highlight cases in the book where characters-namely Ahab, Ishmael and Queequeg-interpret relatively ambiguous portents and then work according to these interpretations; the goal being to handle the probability that the men are placing faith in signals and readings that could have no genuine relevance to their lives. Let it be produced clear that I really do not plan to emphasize any glaring information that fate is or is not at the job, for I believe Melville so carefully constructed this theme as to allow his reader to decide for him or herself whether or not the Pequod was fated to be destroyed by the whale.

Chapter XXXVI, "The Quarter-Deck, " has Captain Ahab emphatically demonstrating his opinion in fate, showing this belief in a way which inspires a feeling of goal in his team, save Starbuck. "And this is exactly what ye have shipped for, men, " Ahab says the crew, "to run after that white whale on both attributes of land and total sides of globe, till he spouts black bloodstream and rolls fin out" (202). Ahab, in his approach to the topic, first presents the whale as an elusive, even mystical creature, then fills his team with the notion that they have been chosen because of this endeavor; that it is their destiny to kill the white whale. Additionally, Ahab makes a wedding ceremony of this revelation: he issues "an order rarely or never given on shipboard except in some extraordinary circumstance, " which is to summon the ship's company to gather on deck. The captain then presents the men with a yellow metal doubloon (which will be expounded on later in this newspaper) and goes by around libations to help expand mark the occasion. Ahab here performs on fate a little to be able to rally his team for his own chosen cause. It is seen in later chapters, such as "The Symphony, " that Ahab feels he is fated to battle the whale once more. In an instant of self-doubt, he points out to Starbuck that he cannot relent in his quest for the whale: "how then can this one small heart beat; this one small brain think thoughts; unless God does the beating, will that thinking, does that living, and not I. By heaven, man, our company is turned round and round in this world, like yonder windlass, and Fate is the handspike" (622). But in sharing his intent to hunt the whale with the Pequod's crew-and especially in his approach to the matter-Ahab is decidedly manipulative. He instills in his men the idea that his fate is theirs as well, when it remains unclear if this effort is actually anyone's fate. Furthermore, Ahab's speech will serve to bolster Queequeg and Ishmael's idea that they themselves are being guided by fate.

Just as Ahab is convinced himself to be bound by fate, the reader can see in early stages that Queequeg is a man whom thinks in pre-destination; and, with time, Ishmael too seems to believe. It is in chapter XVI, "The Ship, " where Yojo's insistence that Ishmael choose the ship on which he and Queequeg would work puts into movement a chain of happenings that ends in Ishmael's life being indirectly saved by Queequeg. In "The Dispatch, " Ishmael explains,

and Yojo acquired told [Queequeg] two or three times over, and firmly insisted upon it every way, that rather than our going together one of the whaling-fleet in harbour, and in concert selecting our craft; instead of this, I say, Yojo earnestly enjoined that selecting the dispatch should relax wholly beside me, inasmuch as Yojo purposed befriending us; and, in order to do so, got already, pitched upon a vessel, which, if remaining to myself, I Ishmael, should infallibly light upon, for all your world as if it had turned out by chance (100).

There are two issues in this passage which suggest the workings of fate. An example may be the supposition that Yojo had intentionally helped bring Queequeg and Ishmael collectively; and the second is that the two friends were designed to mother board the Pequod for reasons yet unidentified. Both suppositions make the strong discussion that our heroes are carrying out a set destiny, one that is reinforced in later chapters, such as "The Monkey-rope, " where Ishmael makes the advice that he and Queequeg are connected; that one's fate invariably is determined by the other. In this specific episode, the monkey-rope itself operates as the icon of their interconnection: "for better or for worse, we two, for the time, were wedded; and should poor Queequeg sink to rise no more, then both consumption and honour demanded, that rather than cutting the wire, it should drag me down in his wake" (376). It might be suggested that, at this point, Ishmael has taken up to heart the theory that Yojo experienced brought he and Queequeg along; our narrator, in cases like this, uses the symbolic monkey-rope to further illustrate this connection.

The epilogue, therefore, reveals what can be seen as the explanation for Ishmael and Queequeg's fated relationship. As Ishmael says in the brief chapter, "I had been he whom the Fates ordained to take the place of Ahab's bowsman, " in place being spared, like Job, to see the storyline of what he previously seen. In addition to this assertion, the reader views that Ishmael's life is kept by the very coffin which have been built for Queequeg, and had been subsequently changed into a life buoy. There is then a powerful recommendation that Ishmael was fated to spread the story of the Pequod, which Queequeg was similarly fated to help our hero reach his destiny. Indeed aspects of the duo's story-their meeting; their immediate relationship; Queequeg's sickness which demanded the development of the coffin-all seem to be to fit together like puzzle items, forming a larger picture.

But these sorts of interpretation, and Ahab's own impression of his fate, are that; interpretations; and this ambiguous character of the meant portents of the book may very well be Melville making the suggestion that fate is a subjective device, this is of which varies from man to man. I believe this aspect to be highly hinted at in section XCIX, "The Doubloon, " where Melville shows the reader differing views of an individual object. A series of characters address the platinum doubloon nailed to the mast; and each offer their own interpretation of the coins' illustrations. Ahab, in his monomania, considers himself in the doubloon-"The firm tower, that is Ahab; the volcano, that is Ahab; all are Ahab" (499)-while Starbuck recognizes in the coin an equilibrium of gloom and righteousness. Stubb considers in the coin "the life of man in a single round section, " and simple Flask considers nothing at all (501, 502). As you persona comes, another goes, and the interpretations are always different, if only somewhat. As so many character types look upon arguably trivial details etched onto the top of your doubloon and invest in these images significantly contrasting meanings.

Regarding fate, a similar type of subjective reading shows up in Section CXXXV, "The Chase-Third Day, " as Ahab appears to force Fedallah's prediction to become a reality in a rather literary little bit of interpretation. The captain needs the Parsee's prediction regarding two hearses to a symbolic level, experiencing the whale and the Pequod as the portended vehicles. Which is likely that, if Ahab had not shouted "The ship! The hearse!-the second hearse!" the reader wouldn't normally have found on the allusion whatsoever. The "fulfillment" of Fedallah's prediction is among the many situations where fate is seen through a somewhat subjective lens.

In consideration of the and other instances mentioned, it seems reasonable to dispute that Melville wished and then improve the question of fate in the thoughts of his viewers, and didn't intend to answer fully the question in virtually any finite way within the written text. Heroes are likened to prophets, gods and archangels; storms and fires have emerged as portents; the white whale itself is considered by many to be an agent of darkness or chaos or even God; but, in the end, each little bit of evidence, and each fatalist interpretation holds a certain ambiguity. Melville, I really believe, was alert to this ambiguity, and got pains to create his novel so that one reader may see the ship's crew as being mistaken in its endeavor and another reader may see the Pequod as a courageous and daring vessel facing its fate head on.

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