Heman Melville Research Paper
Mrs. Lauren Williams
April 1st, 2015
Melville was born in a time of American history where inspiring works of American literature began to emerge. It was also a time when America had not completely separated its literary heritage from Europe, partly because there were successful literary genius’ flourishing there. Melville proved to be a genius of his own, with his many works such as Moby Dick, Billy Bud, and Bartleby. Three distinct themes could be seen throughout most of his literature; whales and the whaling industry, commentary on the universe and human destiny, and ideas about God and nature. Moby Dick is an incredible work by Melville most often referred to as an epic, a tragedy, a novel, an …show more content…
The basis of the name Moby Dick can be traced back to an article in the New York Knickerbocker Magazine in May of 1839 (Madden). An article entitled Mocha Dick: or the White Whale of the Pacific recounted the capture of a giant sperm whale that had become infamous among whalers for its violent attacks on ships and their crews. The reasoning behind this whales name was quite simple; the whale was often sighted near the island of Mocha, and the use of Dick was a generic name similar to the use of Jack or Tom. It is not shown that Melville’s work resembles this article in particular way except the use of the name and basic idea. The reasoning for the transfer from Mocha to Moby is possibly the biggest mystery. Melville never explained where the name had come from. It is possible that the name was something he had invented and just liked the sound of. Many scholars, however, are not convinced of this and have taken time to look for another reason behind the change.
By July 1846 even the Knickerbocker Magazine had forgotten its earlier version [of Reynolds article], reminding its readers of ‘the sketch of “Mocha Dick, of the Pacific”, published in the Knickerbocker many years ago…’. That account may well have led Melville to look