1819 - 1891
• On January 3,
1841, aged 22
from New Bedford,
• In the days before the discovery of
petroleum, whale oil supplied the fuel
• In addition, the whale was the source
of a bony substance called baleen used
various household products.
• Voyages would often last for four years.
Life on board a whale ship was hard and
killing whales was extremely dangerous.
• Once the harpooners had speared the whale
their boats would be dragged along by the
whale trying to escape.
• Once the whale was dead, it would be
brought on board and its blubber (layer of
fat) would be cut off and all the valuable
• A whaling ship would typically kill about
40 whales on a four year voyage.
• If you survived the journey, you could make
a lot of money.
Ishmael and Queequeg
• Ishmael, the narrator of the story travels to
Massachusetts and plans to join a whaling ship.
• The inn he stays in is full, so he must share a bed
with a cannibal from the South Pacific named
• He is afraid of him at first, but they become very
• They both join the crew of the PEQUOD,
which is made up of men from many
• The captain of the Pequod is called Captain
Ahab. One of his legs is made out of whale
bone, because his real leg was bitten off by
a whale named MOBY DICK.
• Captain Ahab has become obsessed with killing
• He tells the crew that he will give any man who
can kill the the whale a valuable gold coin.
• Ahab’s obsession with finding Moby Dick has
made him crazy.
• Starbuck is the first mate on the PEQUOD,
he is scared by Ahab’s obsession.
• Ultimately they find the whale and every
member of the crew – except Ishmael - is
killed by the whale.
Starbucks Coffee Shop
• Starbucks is named
after this character in
Moby Dick, even
though he has nothing
to do with coffee.
The white whale
• White is traditionally
the colour of purity
and innocence in
• Ishmael finds the fact
that the apparently evil
whale is white more
• Ahab’s need for revenge ultimately kills
him and all those under his command.
• The Captain of one of the other ships they
encounter on their journey has lost an arm
to Moby Dick. But he is simply happy to
have escaped with his life.
• Though Ahab’s obsession is dangerous, it is
also all that keeps him going.
• Some critics suggest that Melville is trying
to tell us that everybody needs this level of
obsession about something to give you
something to live for.
• When it was first published, people found it very
difficult to understand.
• Parts of the book are very poetic, and other parts
are very technical descriptions of the anatomy of
• Part of the book was also incorrectly printed,
which confused people even more.
• Transcendentalists believe in the
possibility of positive change and the
ability of each individual to attain
communion with God from a reliance
on their innate goodness and reliability
and faith in their own instinct.
Was Melville a
• Many people believe that creating the whale
Moby Dick, who serves as the embodiment
of evil within the novel….
• And Captain Ahab, who’s heart has lead
him down this path of obsession and
revenge, is proof that Melville was not a
• Moby Dick is also about the mysterious
forces of the universe that overwhelm the
individual who seeks to confront and
struggle against them.
• It is pessimistic, transcendentalism is
• Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) wrote
The Scarlet Letter in 1850.
• Nathaniel Hawthorne was a good friend of
Herman Melville and was one of the few
people to recognise Moby Dick as a
masterpiece when it was written.
Was Nathaniel Hawthorne a
The Scarlet Letter (1850)
• Transcendentalism rejects the Puritan
• Puritan society had no respect for the
• Hester Prynne has obeyed her love for
Dimmesdale instead of society’s rules.
Blithedale Romance (1852)
• The Blithedale Romance is a story by
Nathaniel Hawthorne set in a commune
called Blithedale Farm.
• It is based on a real commune called Brook
Farm, where Hawthorne lived in 1841.
• Brook farm was a community living
experiment, which tried to put
transcendental ideas into practice.
• Hawthorne made fun of some of the
transcendentalists in his books, but he
shared their ideas as well.
• Emerson, Thoreau, Melville and Hawthorne
are all very important American writers.
• They may not have agreed on everything,
but they all wrote books and essays that can
help the reader to understand the world