Hi help me Moby Dick

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sympathy

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Call me Ishmael. Some years ago -- never mind how long precisely -- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off -- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs -- commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward. Its extreme down-town is the battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.

Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall northward. What do you see? -- Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the bulwarks

What is "growing grim about the mouth"?
What is "in my soul"?
What does the author mean by saying "pausing before the coffin warehouses ...."?
What does "hypos" mean? What is "knocking people's hats off"?
What is "account it high time"?

Thanks a lot and happy new year.
 

apex2000

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What is "growing grim about the mouth"?
What is "in my soul"?
What does the author mean by saying "pausing before the coffin warehouses ...."?
What does "hypos" mean? What is "knocking people's hats off"?
What is "account it high time"?

The first three are all about his feelings of depression or thoughts of death. They mean that when he is 'down', or feeling low, or fed up with life, even getting desperate because he so dislikes whatever state (this could be of mind or position) he is in.
'hypos' is probably a contraction of, say, hyperactivity or 'hyper' thoughts so that he does something quite unusual such as literally knocking people's hats off (their heads).
The final one refers to him deciding that it is about time that he changed whatever he is doing and get back to sea. There he will feel better, be of more use either to himself or others, be where he feels at ease within himself.
 

Anglika

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What is "growing grim about the mouth"? If you are unhappy or dismayed, the muscles round your mouth contract, drawing down the corners.

What is "November in my soul"? The bleak feeling that a depressed person has.

What does the author mean by saying "pausing before the coffin warehouses ...."? pausing in front of undertakers' premises.

What is "account it high time"? Here in "...account it", account means to think of someone or something in the stated way.
 

Urszula7

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I've just registerd with this site and while navigating my way through it have come across your post. I also happen to be reading Moby Dick, a Norton Critical Edition. According to one of it's footnotes, 'hypo' is short for hypochondria, a state of depression somewhat more chronic and morbid that our 'blues'.
 

Mad-ox

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hi,

GENDER STUDY IN MOBY DICK

I also read the book last year and I noticed that there were no women in it. I want to find some answers regarding gender in Moby Dick. I wonder if the absence of women had any effect on the story in the novel. Do you think Ahab could have avoided the horrible destiny if women had also been on the whaling ship? Was Melville an anti-feminist author or he simply depicted life on the sea ( hunting for whales )- an enterprise accepted mostly by men due to hard work.


Madox
 

apex2000

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No, in the story it is all about what happens at sea. Women do not normally go to sea for such tough an occupation as the book describes. All men crews for whaling were the norm.
 

Mad-ox

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No, in the story it is all about what happens at sea. Women do not normally go to sea for such tough an occupation as the book describes. All men crews for whaling were the norm.



But if Ahab had had a woman/wife wouldn't have changed the whole situation? Ahab might have been too lonely and that's why his only purpose in life became the hunting of the 'white whale'. Perhaps, If he had had a wife to love, Ahab would have not commited the gruesome sacrifice. Thus, the lack of women could be the first omen which suggests the tragedy of the Pequod. Men along with women build up a perfect unity.( Yin and Yang harmony)
 

apex2000

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But if Ahab had had a woman/wife wouldn't have changed the whole situation? Ahab might have been too lonely and that's why his only purpose in life became the hunting of the 'white whale'. Perhaps, If he had had a wife to love, Ahab would have not commited the gruesome sacrifice. Thus, the lack of women could be the first omen which suggests the tragedy of the Pequod. Men along with women build up a perfect unity.( Yin and Yang harmony)

I think you are trying to change the story. If the author had intended a woman's influence to be there then is would have been in the book.

As for a woman's influence in general then you are on the right track but the result may not be different.
 

Mad-ox

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Oh, no, I do not want to change the story. All I want is to find out if there is sex discrimination in this book. It is known that at the time the book was written, women had little rights; they were supposed only to run the house, bear children, in other words to be submissive and domestic. Unfortunatelly, this the the only book I have read by Herman Melville. I wonder if there are female characters in his other books and what role do they have.
 

Mad-ox

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Take for example, Robinson Crusoe by Defoe. The lack of women is obvious here, too. But regarding this book, critics suggested that Defoe saw women, romantic love as an obstacle to economic advancement. And I wonder if this idea was applied by Melville, too.!?
 

apex2000

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There is no discrimination, sexual or otherwise. There is too much effort put into trying to second guess authors. They are story tellers with no other deep, psychological intentions in the main run of books.
The same 'analysis' of the works by many old masters is subject to much discussion, whereas what most of them were doing was simply painting what they saw (or the way they saw it) and not trying to be pseudo psychologists and paint something with a hidden meaning.
 

Mad-ox

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All famous books have hidden meanings! Let's take for example two very simple novels "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll or "Gulliver's Travels" by Johnatan Swift. Apparently, these are books for children but, in fact, the authors use allegory in order to critisize the society they were brought up and participated in.
 

apex2000

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All famous books have hidden meanings! Let's take for example two very simple novels "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll or "Gulliver's Travels" by Johnatan Swift. Apparently, these are books for children but, in fact, the authors use allegory in order to critisize the society they were brought up and participated in.
Yes, this is quite clear and was the authors' intention. This is quite different to all those cases where critics and others try to put another meaning to what has been written. It is all conjecture as there is no evidence that the authors were writing anything other than straightforward fiction.
 

Mad-ox

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hi,

I totally agree with you. Many times or, who knows, maybe, most of the times, authors just put down information in which they may mention about, say, rain, umbrella, cat, colors etc without thinking or intending to be symbols; and we as readers want to interpret everything. However, NOTHING is accidental.


Just a rethorical question: how can we know what was in Herman Melville's mind when he was writing his masterpiece. Obviously, there is no answer, but one should be one to many interpretation.

Madox
 

apex2000

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However, NOTHING is accidental.
Just a rethorical question: how can we know what was in Herman Melville's mind when he was writing his masterpiece. Obviously, there is no answer, but one should be one to many interpretation.

I cannot follow you when you state 'nothing is accidental'. If you happened to be driving along a road when a tree collapsed, crushing your car, would you not agree that that was an accident?

No, you are right that we cannot know what was in the mind of the author when writing, although most authors find it hard enough to write their story without trying to be 'understood' in some mysterious way. Do you seriously believe that all writing is produced with hidden meaning?
 

Anglika

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I wonder why you feel it is so necessary for Melville to include female characters? He largely wrote about sailors and their world in an era when women did not set out to mimic men. He is interested in the interactions of his male characters and was well aware that he was not particularly good at writing about women.
 

Mad-ox

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I cannot follow you when you state 'nothing is accidental'. If you happened to be driving along a road when a tree collapsed, crushing your car, would you not agree that that was an accident?


The fact that, let's say, a tree collapses on somebody, it can be explained by Karma. Nothing is accidental. We all have to learn from everything. And here I would like to quot Abraham Lincoln: "If I do good, I feel good. If I do bad, I feel bad. that's my religion." In other words If you make good you receive good and vice versa. So If a tree collapsed on you cartainly you did something wrong in the past. Thus, everything has a purpose. And I repet myself: NOTHING IS ACCIDENTAL


Madox
 

Mad-ox

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I wonder why you feel it is so necessary for Melville to include female characters? He largely wrote about sailors and their world in an era when women did not set out to mimic men. He is interested in the interactions of his male characters and was well aware that he was not particularly good at writing about women.



I do not feel it but I simply asked the question. It is well known that at the the time the novel was written, women were expected to be submissive and domestic, and perhaps religious. They were expelled from all activities. That's why I supposed that Melville had the same aim.

Whaling was of course a strictly male enterprise, but what consequences may be said to follow from the absence of women from this world? How would you make sense, in this context, of Ahab's deformity?


Madox
 

Anglika

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Nothing. I do not feel any lack of feminine or female presence in Melville's books. It is of no relevance to the narrative or its content. To seek to explain this in terms of modern views is trying to impose on a writer something that is alien to his nature.

It is also not true that women were "expelled from all activities". In real life, women were very much involved in activities of all kinds. It is those of the aristocratic or rising middle classes who were constrained by custom and social rules, and even there, if one looks, there are notable exceptions.
 
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