"Oh, thou clear spirit, of thy fire you made me, and like a true child of fire, I breathe it back to thee.” Musing: In this scene, Ahab addresses the corpusants (the fire). The Pequod is still in the midst of a typhoon, yet he is taking control over nature - or so he thinks. The best part of Ahab is that we sometimes believe him when he speaks. The worst part of Ahab is that sometimes we believe him even knowing that we should not. Can he be called a villain if he can also be
"While this pallidness was burning aloft, few words were heard from the enchanted crew; who in one thick cluster stood on the forecastle, all their eyes gleaming in that pale phosphorescence, like a far away constellation of stars. Relieved against the ghostly light, the gigantic jet negro, Daggoo, loomed up to thrice his real stature, and seemed the black cloud from which the thunder had come. The parted mouth of Tashtego revealed his shark-white teeth, which strangely gleam
“'Aye, aye, men!'” cried Ahab. “'Look up at it; mark it well; the white flame but lights the way to the White Whale! Hand me those mainmast links there; I would fain feel this pulse, and let mine beat against it; blood against fire! So.'” Musing: The ship, in the midst of a typhoon, suddenly becomes lit by "corpusants," or fiery balls of lightening. While some on the ship see this as a bad omen, the fire only serves to fuel Ahab's internal flames. The imagery in this chapter
"At that moment in one of the intervals of profound darkness, following the flashes, a voice was heard at his side; and almost at the same instant a volley of thunder peals rolled overhead. “Who’s there?” “Old Thunder!” said Ahab." Musing: This is a dramatic scene! Starbuck and Stubb are on deck watching the weather turn bad. Starbuck begins to tell Stubb that the weather ahead, toward Moby-Dick, is dangerous. He wants to head home and let the wind carry the ship back to Nant
"Warmest climes but nurse the cruelest fangs: the tiger of Bengal crouches in spiced groves of ceaseless verdure." Musing: The idea that behind all beauty lurks danger is rampant throughout Moby-Dick. Many times Melville uses nature as the beauty that hides danger. I love this line.
“Well, well; I heard Ahab mutter, ‘Here some one thrusts these cards into these old hands of mine; swears that I must play them, and no others.’ And damn me, Ahab, but thou actest right; live in the game, and die in it!” This line, coming on the heels of Starbuck's acquiescence to fate, comes from Stubb, the second mate. Here we have a glimpse into someone who believes Ahab is behaving the way he should - full steam ahead. Both men are doomed, of course, but they see Ahab's m
“I have sat before the dense coal fire and watched it all aglow, full of its tormented flaming life; and I have seen it wane at last, down, down, to dumbest dust. Old man of oceans! of all this fiery life of thine, what will at length remain but one little heap of ashes!” Musing: I love this line: "of all this fiery life of thine, what will at length remain but one little heap of ashes!” Sadly, this line is said by Starbuck. Starbuck has seen Ahab trample the Quadrant. Starbu
"Curse thee, thou vain toy; and cursed be all the things that cast man’s eyes aloft to that heaven, whose live vividness but scorches him, as these old eyes are even now scorched with thy light, O sun!" Musing: Ahab has been looking through the Quadrant to chart his course. While looking to the sun, he suddenly becomes angry and rebukes science altogether. Ahab vows to rely on nothing but himself to guide his way to Moby-Dick. This can be read as his final cut-off with the su
"Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed." Musing: Though not from the great book itself, this quote came to mind on the occasion of this 4th of July holiday. My wish for this coming year, America, is compassion and action from all and for all.
"Then falling into a moment’s revery, Ahab again looked up towards the sun and murmured to himself: 'Thou sea-mark! thou high and mighty Pilot! you tell me truly where I AM—but can you give the least hint where I SHALL be? Or can you tell where some other thing besides me is this moment living? Where is Moby Dick?This instant you must be eyeing him. These eyes of mine look into the very eye that is even now beholding him; aye, and into the eye that is even now equally beholdi