It is the magnificence and yet the futility of his attempt. Since he was picked up by the pilot, to whom he immediately related the incidents of the voyage, he has wandered the earth, frequently feeling the deep need to tell other human beings what he has been through. Ahab does not want to confront this - so he persuades himself Moby Dick is some sort of demon. He thinks "the invisible spheres were formed in fright," feels his burden is that of all mankind "… as though I were Adam, staggering beneath the piled centuries since Paradise" , thinks the White Whale either the "principal" or the agent of all evil. And the ocean itself, source of both life and death, becomes in Ishmael's mind a place of miracle, a "live ground" that "swallows up ships and crews. Or does God rage at himself?
From the SparkNotes Blog
Chapter xli - MOBY DICK
He discusses the whale as it is depicted in paintings and compares the images to his own experiences; and he observes the whale itself, pondering the meaning of its huge and mysterious body, its equally peaceful and violent behavior, and its often contradictory significance to the men who hunt it. Another allegory is man vs. The Ann Alexander had two of its whaling boats destroyed by the whale they were pursuing. He must live because he, after all, is the teller of the story. They are simply victims of Ahab's destructive design. He is a Christian of an earnest Quaker disposition, a "staid, steadfast man.
Melville's Moby Dick - the megalomanic character of Captain Ahab
Ishmael commits no such act. Father Mapple's sermon on Jonah has been offered by some as the key to the book, but this interpretation, I suggest, goes contrary to all Melville believed. The reason the mass of men fear God, and at bottom dislike Him, is because they rather distrust His heart, and fancy Him all brain like a watch. This map could lead them to thousands of whales, but Ahab puts this gigantic opportunity aside saying, "No, we are hunting for Moby Dick". His tremendous overconfidence, or hubris, leads him to defy common sense and believe that, like a god, he can enact his will and remain immune to the forces of nature.
Includes a reprinting of the October 24, , London Morning Advertiser article, which is an expansive and complimentary review of the three-volume English edition of Melville's book. But Star-buck's calm self-righteousness impresses the captain. Starbuck and Ahab are looking at a map that shows all the whale's paths, feeding, and breeding grounds, and tells when, and what kind of whales will be there. He is the Original Sinner, the only begetter of evil, the primal Archfiend. Since shipping on the Pequod , he has wandered the earth, but it is what happened on that first whaling voyage that preoccupies him. Ahab declares himself to be mad and "demoniac" Melville The book sold fewer than five thousand copies in Melville's lifetime.