Not too long ago we discussed our love for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, and today we are back to discuss why we love Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick.
This classic novel is interesting for a number of reasons outside of the context of its content. First, it didn’t become popular, nonetheless a classic, until a sudden rebirth in the 1900s, despite being written in the prior century. Second, one of the characters in the novel is named Starbuck. Sound familiar? The giant coffee company obtained its name from Melville.
With those two fun facts aside, let’s dive into the novel’s content and why we love it. If you’re unfamiliar with the novel’s plot, it essentially centers on a quest for revenge. Captain Ahab and his crew venture out onto the ocean on his ship, the Pequod, to find the titular whale, who, in the past, took one of Ahab’s legs from him. (Yes, this is likely the birthplace of the pegleg pirate motif.)
As we discussed in our Scarlet Letter article, there are similar themes of nature and religion woven throughout this novel. This novel does a great job of not boasting one religion over another, instead opening a discussion on religion in general. Then, there is the stage of humans versus the natural world present throughout nearly the entire novel.
One theme we found the most interesting in this novel, however, is that of sexuality. Where the novel opens the realm of religion to its characters, it also seemingly presents fluid sexualities, with the men on the Pequod often finding themselves in homoerotic situations. There is also the fact that they equate their friendships to marriages. Generally, we believe that Moby-Dick is ahead of its time in a lot of its themes, especially in the regard of sexuality in the nineteenth century.
Outside of plot and themes, Moby-Dick is generally a good piece to dig into. In addition to being labeled a classic, the novel boasts 135 chapters (some longer and shorter than others) and a wealth of information on whales, including whale anatomy, that further expand the scope of what a piece of fiction can and should be.
All in all, this novel is a decadent piece of literature that we adore. We are more than thrilled that it experienced its literary renaissance in the twentieth century, and if you haven’t read it, we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
What is your favorite classic novel? How do you feel about Melville’s Moby-Dick? Comment below and tweet us @Fuzzable with all of your literary opinions!