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Moby Dick Audio Book Summary
My name is Ishmael. Possibly one of the most iconic openings to a novel in the history of literature. It begs the question – who is this man named Ishmael? And why is his story so transfixing?
The answer can be found on a number of levels.
The story of Moby Dick is one of mans struggle with the forces of nature and mans struggle against the forces that drive his own emotions and psychology. In essence it is a trip that concerns the nature of humanity itself. Why are we here and why do we do the things that we do?
Are we shaped by the world around us or are we driven by our past?
The story may seem to be stilted and haphazard in its literary approach, but taken as a whole it cannot be faulted. It soars across vast vistas of ocean and plunges to the depths of what exactly makes us human.
For those who want to explore the entire depth of human emotion Moby Dick has it all.
In essence the story is very simple. It concerns the journey of a madman. A madman with a mission to avenge himself on the animal that has taken his leg – and his soul. The white whale that the Captain Ahab searches for is a metaphor for his own suffering. At the end he is left alone, bereft of friends and companionship. Yet in the final scene when he struggles, ultimately fruitlessly, without hope and is dragged into the depths he has his revenge.
An empty revenge as the target of his hatred dies, dragging him to the depths wrapped in a the ropes that attach the harpoon which symbolizes his burning hatred and his eventual acceptance of the futility of his quest for revenge.
The ideas of being apart and standing alone is central to the narrative of the novel. The characters are either richly drawn or superfluous to the narrative, depending on the point of view of the reader.
The narrator, Ishmael is aghast at the foreign nature of the man he meets in an inn – his disgust fades as the tattoos of his listener fade into the background and the madness of Ahab take center stage.
The ship is tossed on stormy seas as emotion and action take center stage and the narrative takes over. The search for the white whale is one that is filled with action – but strangely enough the action is second place to the personalities that fill each page of this novel.
There is a symbolism in every scene, a palpable menace that fills the each paragraph. The characters are not lovable – nor are they approachable in any normal sense. Instead they fill the reader with dread.
However this is a sense of dread that begs for resolution. It is a story of redemption and of hope. A story where the characters have the opportunity to walk away. They never do – and in so doing the reader is taken on a trip that may change their appreciation for finely crafted characters.