Ahab's Quest for the Meaning of Life in Melville's Novel, Moby Dick

1608 Words 7 Pages
Ahab's Quest for the Meaning of Life in Melville's Novel, Moby Dick

"Each life unfulfilled you see,
It hangs still, patchy and scrappy;
We have not sighed deep, laughed free,
Starved, feasted, despaired-been happy."
Robert Browning

Introducing the idea of the evolution of species, Darwin emphasized on the importance of the "struggle for existence" as the driving force for that process. Facing scarcity of resources in their habitats, some species gain certain traits that help them utilize the available resources in a more efficient way. Thus, given a competitive advantage over the other species in that habitat, the species that are better adapted to their environment have greater chances for survival than others do. Drawing on
…show more content…
Aware of the mutability of the surrounding world, he aspires to define the attributes of life and comprehend the underlying logic of the world: "All visible objects are... but pasteboard masks."(Moby Dick, 140). He believes that "Truth hath no confines" (140) and in doing so he refuses to be confined in his search for it. Avoiding the pitfalls (The 4 Great Errors as Nietzsche defines them) that hamper one's efforts to attain truth, Ahab does not allow himself be deceived.

The error of confusing cause and effect (Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols): Understanding the universe is the meaning of Ahab's life. Having identified such an aim, Ahab has attained the power to live. Finding the ultimate truth is his vocation. It is the frustration and subsequent hate, evoked by this inability to comprehend the ultimate truth Moby Dick personifies, not the leg he lost, that fills him with gall and animosity towards the whale: "The inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate" (140). Aware of the true cause of the journey, Ahab does not seek revenge, but attainment of knowledge. So, it is a positive impetus (the search for truth) not a destructive one that inspires and energizes him. On the ship trying to thrush through the impenetrable wall that surrounds Ultimate truth, Ahab does create his world.

The error of false causality: Using language to transmute his world into an

Related Documents