The Daily Dick: Musings From the Greatest Novel Ever


"It is not probable that this monomania in him took its instant rise at the precise time of his bodily dismemberment. [ . . .] For long months of days and weeks, Ahab and anguish lay stretched together in one hammock, rounding in mid winter that dreary, howling Patagonian Cape; then it was, that his torn body and gashed soul bled into one another; and so interfusing, made him mad. That it was only then, on the homeward voyage, after the encounter, that the final monomania seized him, seems all but certain from the fact that, at intervals during the passage, he was a raving lunatic."

Musing: Every great tragedy must have a great tragic villain. Ahab is so well defined in this chapter. Of course he did not go mad the minute he was injured - it was the weeks of pain and 'anguish' that Melville writes so perceptively about. Yes, Ahab is mad, but here we gain an understanding into how that came to be. Reading Moby Dick this go-around, I saw how cleverly Melville has you feel so sorry for a man and hate him just as intensely. It gave me a stronger understanding into Starbuck for the first time.

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