Doom Doom Doom Doom Doom

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Doom Doom Doom Doom Doom

Marina Gallo

Some people believed that destiny is part of life and everyone has a certain fate that he or she cannot avoid pursuing. That theory seemed to be one that Herman Melville portrayed throughout his anatomy "Moby Dick". defined destiny as, "a predetermined course of events considered as something beyond human power or control". That definition made me think that Melville decided to portray most of his characters as unwittingly following their destiny, while only very few recognized their actions as predetermined or predestined. Fate or destiny plays a big part in this book in many ways. It touches on the characters actions, their relationships with one another, and also the religions mentioned in the book.

One way destiny plays a part in the character's lives is in the fact that they all end up on the whaling ship that is captained by Ahab. To me Ahab is totally out of his mind. He lost his leg to Moby Dick and with it went whatever was left of the reason and the common sense he had in him. Now he only wants revenge and he feels that his fate is set when he states, "the path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run" (Melville143). Ahab knows he is a little bit out of his mind because he is willing to die for this revenge, but he can acknowledge this situation, which, to me, shows that he still has a tiny bit of sanity left even though he has succumb to what he thinks his destiny is. I feel this way because of scene where Ahab is alone talking to himself about how the men all think he is crazy and he agrees with then to a certain extent, but he also thinks that it is part of his destiny to kill Moby Dick and if he must die to do so, so be it. He knows that to other people he would appear insane to give his life to kill one certain whale, but to himself if he doesn't do this it will tear him apart.

The other unusual thing about destiny is that all of the characters accept it as if it is something real in life they must believe in. Ahab pushes for the men on the boat to believe that their destiny is to be there on the Pequod to hunt down Moby Dick with him. Starbuck is the only character who has a strong enough sense of rationalism to question Ahab. The only other incentive that Ahab gives the men is a gold Doubloon to whoever spots Moby Dick first. This entire situation is odd because the men are either greedy enough to put their lives in danger or they trust Ahab's fate propaganda fully and go along with him without question. I asked myself why all of these men, except for one, would go along with that situation and it occurred to me that there were different reasons for each man. Ishmael seems to be seeking some sort of a suicide and by becoming a whaler on the Pequod that is his way of letting whatever fate life may have in store for him arrive sooner than if he was on land. It is a combination of suicidal tendencies, a taste for adventure, education, and also the open seas. When it comes to Stubb, he has worked in whaling for so long that he has become immune in a sense to the apparent dangers of whaling; the prospect of death has come to an end of scaring him. Stubb is a fatalist, thus he believes in destiny and he calmly accepts the possibility of death from this whaling adventure. Because of Stubb's fatalistic belief he knows there is little he can do about anything that might happen to the crew, that is probably a major reason why he is so upbeat all of the time. Flask is the kind of whaler that acts before he thinks and also he takes so much pride and joy in killing whales that he hardly can think of much else such as fate and destiny or himself or the crew. All of these characters work together to draw attention to Ahab and his monomania when it comes to his idea about his destiny to kill Moby Dick.

There are also a few relationships in which the theme of fate is brought up about in this book. One relationship is that of Ishmael and Queequeg. Although neither character is much defined, Queequeg seemed to be the more spiritual and destiny driven of the two friends. He was the one that urged Ishmael to pick the whaling boat because his icon told him that was what the right thing to be done was. Ishmael, on the other hand, would rather have gone out together with Queequeg and picked out the whaling boat, but Queequeg would have none of that. Queequeg put faith in his idol that it would lead to the correct fate for him and Ishmael. That action of placing his faith in his religion leads me to believe that Queequeg was willing to risk death because he was so religious and religion may go hand in hand with some people's belief in fate, in this case Queequeg. Perhaps if Queequeg had not insisted on Ishmael to pick the boat alone they would have both ended up in a better whaling ship, maybe like the Rachel. It is ironic in the end though because Ishmael doesn't die, yet he was the character with more of a suicidal flare and Queequeg dies but he was only on the boat to be with his friend who Queequeg insisted pick the boat: Ishmael.

Another relationship that included destiny was Captain Ahab and Pip's friendship. These men were complete opposites in power on the ship; one was the captain, while the other was the cabin boy. They made an unlikely pair, yet a friendship and later a father-son like bond blossomed between them. The way I think fate seemed to touch this relationship was in the sense that Ahab felt he had to fulfill his destiny, yet when Pip wanted to stay on deck and follow the Captain around, Ahab told him to go below deck lest he accidentally hurt him while trying to catch Moby Dick. In a sense he was looking out for Pip in a fatherly way and acknowledging the fact that he still was trying to follow out his kismet. Pip would basically have followed Ahab to his death, but luckily Ahab found a soft spot in his heart for the now insane Pip. Pip only perceives things that others don't and perhaps that is his fate and role in his relationship with Ahab; it is how their fates work together. Pip can see and understand things they Ahab can't and he is a prophet of sorts for Ahab, while Ahab looks out for the insane boy as he is also fulfilling his own fate of trying to kill Moby Dick.

The religious aspect of the book is one more section in which destiny plays a part. This book was much more religious than I expected it to be. It included many biblical passages and references to religious things from many different cultures. Mainly the references were to the bible, but a lot of the men on the whaling ships were from all over the world and they were not Christian or Catholic so some of the references were not to the bible. One of the main religious experiences the crew has that has to do with destiny, fate, and prophesy, is when they encounter the other whaling ship, the Jeroboam, and meet Gabriel their so called archangel . Gabriel believes he is a prophet, but Ahab does not like what he is saying because it goes against hunting down Moby Dick, thus they part ways. This meeting shows that though both these men feel they have something special about themselves, they are contradicting and they think their fates obviously don't include each others prophesies. Fedallah is another man who is of a religious manner and feels he is a prophet. He is on the boat as a prophet of Ahab's and he is mysterious to the rest of the crew. Ahab seems to take his prophesies more seriously because he brought him on board purposely rather than chanced the encounter in the sea like with Gabriel. Perhaps if one was to juxtapose these to prophets Ahab would take Fedallah's theories as fate and Gabriel's theories as a waste of time.

Unfortunately, no matter what the men believed in, all but one of them ended up dead in the end of the book. Ishmael didn't die, yet he seemed like a character that wouldn't have minded if he did die. No matter if this truly was Ahab's fate being carried out on all of the whalers or just life taking place, the book seemed to have a very unsatisfactory, yet predictable ending. It seems obvious that a book with so much emphasis placed on fate would conclude with many of the men's fates being carried out.

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