Comparing Melville's The Confidence-Man And Moby-Dick

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Both disability and race are oppressing because of prejudices, ignorance, and the formation of societal norms. Ishmael notices he has “unwarrantable prejudices” based on race and that “ignorance is the parent of fear” (Moby-Dick 31, 34). Negative stereotypes about both African Americans and those with disabilities emerged, and societal norms were created surrounding both misunderstood ‘impairments.’ I am arguing that race and disability were each socially constructed and negative norms and regulations were established surrounding the two identities. Nirmala Erevelles discusses the connection between the two oppressing social constructs: “Race and disability, two significant categories of difference that shape the social, have often been conceptualized as analogous to each other. Disability has often been described as being ‘like race’ and race as being ‘like…show more content…
It seems that Melville makes a more direct statement about slavery in his novel, Benito Cereno—which centers around a slave ship’s revolt. However, I would argue that Melville makes a subtle statement in many of his works, particularly in The Confidence-Man and Moby-Dick. Charles I. Glicksberg argues that Melville comments on race in his fiction: “Melville, as artist and man, was more closely implicated in the fate of the Negro in the United States than we would offhand suspect” (207). Karcher also argues that “Melville had more in common with the abolitionists than has generally been recognized… he condemned slavery as a monstrous betrayal of the American Revolution’s egalitarian ideals” (Karcher 16). Many of Melville’s works criticize the white hierarchical power of the 1800s, I am simply choosing to point to The Confidence-Man and Moby-Dick because they are not frequently analyzed for their racial

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