The Meaning Of The Color White In Moby Dick

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In Moby Dick, white is used to disguise the truth, so it would only make sense that in addition to being fascinated what the truth is, the narrator of Moby Dick, Ishmael, also explores the meaning behind the color white. In fact, Moby Dick has an entire chapter dedicated to the color white and is called, “The Whiteness of the Whale” which explores the concept of the color white or what white means if taken at a face value. Melville or rather the narrator Ishmael, notes that in most cultures, white is used to represent “the symbol of the divine spotlessness and power” (Melville 190). In general, white does, indeed, represent holiness and all that is good. However, to Ishmael, white has a deeper meaning behind it. According to Ishmael, the color is elusive and “strikes more of panic to the soul than that redness which affrights in blood.” (Melville 190) “Elusive” is used, because it describes white as part of the truth and something that is used to conceal the truth which makes the truth hard to grasp or pursue. Ishmael says the fear of white is greater than the fear of mortality. The given reason for it is that when the honorable symbolism attached to the color is removed, white is found is horrid things such as the polar bear and the white shark. The symbolism of goodness associated with white is nothing more than a cloak for something more underneath, the truth—if you will. Most notably, white is also something that has the potential to hide evil. While Ishmael
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