Symbolism In Moby Dick's Skin

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„I know that, to the common apprehension, this phenomenon of whiteness is not confessed to be the prime agent in exaggerating the terror of objects otherwise terrible; nor to the unimaginative mind is there aught of terror in those appearances whose awfulness to another mind almost solely consists in this one phenomenon, especially when exhibited under any form at all approaching to muteness or universality.” ( Herman Melville, 184) The Whiteness of the Whale represents a chapter which brings a Revolution upon the traditional idea of perceving reality. In terms of cultural mentality representations, Melville does not demolish the whiteness as a unique symbol of purity and innocence, but he enlarges its values considering the natural…show more content…
Nevertheless, it reflects a pied universality from the spiritual point of view. In Moby Dick’s skin is a form of sublime, primary represented visual. The colours (black and white) contain a previous specific symbolism, which mostly influences the personal perception. However, the vision upon a transparent object is somehow conditioned by both, experience and an induced mental symbolism. Melville builds the image of these two concepts, trying to argue what happens in a human’s mind when the mental symbol of a colour, previously represented as a colour of purity and peace, opposes against Ismaels’ perception of frightening and vastness. This novel is ’’a book similarly obsessed with vision, white and black symbolism, and the thematic of movement and quest”, (Maryemma Graham & Jerry W. Ward 353) where the whiteness of the whale can take many forms of sublime. According to Kant’s aesthetic conception about sublime, the initial experience of perceiving it, is primary confusing: ’’The sublime is in turn in different sorts. The feeling of it is sometimes accompanied with some dread or even melancholy, in somecases merely with quiet admiration and in yet others with a beauty spread over a sublime prospect. I will call the first the terrifying sublime, the second the noble, and the third the magnificent”. (I. Kant 16, 2:209) For Ishmael the whiteness of the…show more content…
The mariners capture whales especially for their oil, for the big industry of candles. They hunt for the light, in doomed times of capitalist productivity. Light can be an allusion of both beauty of creation and madness of white people, it does not have just the ancient meaning of illumination, it becomes the sickness of a wretched soul (Captain Ahab) and the ultimate gift of creative force. The dramatic irony of hazard shows that the white race accomplishes the most terrifying things during the history. The racial contrast appears many times in Melville’s narrative dialogue in order to underline the hierarchy of colour, the physical opposition between white and black, illustrated by Ishmael’s companionship with Queequag. Many critics see the whale’s skin as a metaphore of white race, one of them is Toni Morisson who argues that in this novel, Melville presents ,,the moment in American when whiteness became an ideology” ( Angelyn Mitchell 384). Pip, the black boy, Queequag, the harpooner with a dark complexion or Daggoo, the black man tall as a giraffe, appear on the same crew with white
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