Moby Dick

Captain Ahab's Journey of Self-Destruction

Captain Ahab, the fifty-eight year old commander of the Pequod, is one of the most fascinating mortals in literary history. The reader witnesses him teetering between sanity and madness, with the latter winning each slight battle and eventually conquering his entire mind, body, and spirit. This, however, does not simply happen to Ahab, for he plays an absolutely active role in his own demise. The choices that he consciously makes, knowing the outcomes that will follow, are of his own accord. This journey of self-destruction is goaded along by four significant turning points in the development of Ahab's mad suicide mission. The captain's preliminary altercation with Moby Dick, the night he convinces the Pequod's crew to undertake his quest, Fedallah's prophecy, and Ahab's decisive, fatal, irrevocable clash with the White Whale are the most significant, character-altering events on the ill-fated captain's suicidal pilgrimage.

The first significant event in the development of Ahab's monomania is his initial encounter with his obsession, Moby Dick. Though this event has already happened when the reader first comes upon Captain Ahab, it is discussed and alluded to throughout the text and is the...

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