Moby Dick

Mody Dick Discussion

I recently read Moby Dick and LOVED IT! I’ve been wanted to do a discussion post for weeks…but haven’t really figured out the right questions to ask. But recently I can across a reading guide to Moby Dick as well as the book A Lifetime’s Reading and they both gave me a lot of inspiration! If you have read Moby Dick yet, you might want to skip this post…it will def be spoilery!

About Herman Melville
Herman Melville was born in New York City in 1819. He worked as a crew member on several vessels beginning in 1839, his experiences spawning his successful early novels Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847). Subsequent books, including his masterpiece Moby-Dick (1851), sold poorly, and by the 1860s Melville had turned to poetry. Following his death in New York City in 1891, he posthumously came to be regarded as one of the great American writers.

About Herman Melville
  1. Captain Ahab shows moments of being mad, superstitious, obsessed and even charismatic, but what is your overall conclusion of him?
  2. The crew of the Pequod obey and respect Ahab, but is he a good Captain? Does he take care of his boat/crew & think about the needs of other ships?
  3. Is it understandable for Captain Ahab to want revenge, given his past with the whale? What does his obsession with Moby Dick tell us about the nature of revenge?
  4. What does Moby Dick represent in this story? Why is he white? How does letting him get away in the end affect the overall story?

I'm an avid reader and love most all books, but my favorite genres tend to be mystery, adventure, science fiction and classics. Genres I tend to shy away from include romance, contemporary fiction and chick lit. If I’m not actually reading books, I’m probably at work shelving them at my local library.


  • Kay

    I didn’t enjoy Moby Dick nearly as well as you did, but as to question two, no, I don’t think he was a good captain. He didn’t pay attention to the needs of the crew and he needlessly put their lives in danger because of his obsession.
    Kay recently posted…Day 1252: The Sapphire WidowMy Profile

    • Books In Bloom

      That’s true. I feel like he kind of used his sailing authority and expertise to manipulate the crew into going along with his hunt. Also, he was ready to let all the oil leak out of the ship if not for Starbuck… And he pretty much ignore any other ship’s requests or company as some as he figured out whether they were useful or not in finding Moby Dick. In this particular sailing he did seem like a horrible Captain…I wonder what he would have been like when he was a younger Captain.

  • FictionFan

    I hated the book, but here goes anyway…

    1. Yes I think he was mad. Vengeful, petty, obsessed, megalomaniac and suffering from some kind of religious mania.

    2. No, he was a terrible captain who put his own wishes above the safety of his crew and his duty to his employers. Plus he was mad.

    3. No, he was mad! It seems kinda pointess taking revenge against an animal that wouldn’t understand the concept of revenge. And anyway, Moby only bit his leg off because Ahab was trying to kill him, so strikes me that Moby was in the right…

    4. I reckon Moby represents the power of nature and man’s smallness in the overall scheme of things. So it was inevitable Ahab would fail – because he was trying to set himself up as some kind of god but in reality he was just a tiny (mad) insignificant human, whom nature could crush at her whim…

    • Books In Bloom

      Amazing answers!! I think you are right in everything you said. As for the revenge thing, I think Ahab had a deep sort of self-hate for “allowing” himself to lose a leg and for pretty much abandoning his wife and family. Moby Dick was the Great White Whale that no one could ever capture, so my theory is that in his little mind, he thought if he could only capture Moby Dick, he could “right the wrongs” of his life or atleast make his life have a meaning or purpose. I think since he was soo sensitive, he couldn’t express this so he showed a bravado and a “I want revenge” exterior. A very broken man and I’m so glad the Moby Dick got out of there! Sad to see the whole crew sacrificed though. 🙁

  • Paula Vince

    Wow, that’s so timely, since I just finished it recently too, and posted my wrap-up post just a matter of days ago. Those are thought-provoking questions. I think Ahab was definitely a fanatic who put his revenge mission above the welfare of his crew, as results showed. I can’t help buying into some of the metaphysical interpretations I’ve seen, that Ahab and Moby Dick may represent Melville’s own battle with the nature of God. If this is the case, MD’s getting away and Ahab’s failure possibly speaks volumes. As for the fact that he’s white, I hardly dare add any extra thoughts after that rambling chapter on the subject 🙂 I can’t say it’s one of my favourite classics, but I’m glad to have read it.
    Paula Vince recently posted…‘These Happy Golden Years’ by Laura Ingalls WilderMy Profile

    • Books In Bloom

      Yay! I was so glad to have read it now too. I def plan on rereading a few pivotal points soon…but couldn’t imagine reading the whole thing over again. :O I’m going to have to look up that interpretation you mentioned, I haven’t heard it yet & it sounds pretty interesting! Hmm come to think of it, “Call me Ishmael” sorta plays into that well. Hmmm. I need to think more on this! 🙂

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