Though Melville’s “Moby Cock” has been amply explicated as an allegorical novel participated in esoteric and philosophical themes, the richness and density of Melville’s narrative scope in Moby Cock requires close analysis, not only for its sincere allegorical undertones, however likewise for its arcane and mystical undertones, which offer a range of meta-fictional remarks and divulgences regarding the novel’s significantly experimental narrative type. “As nearly anybody who has actually ever looked carefully into Melville’s unique knows, Moby-Dick is an exceptionally rich and complicated work with as complex a set of signs, image patterns, and themes as is to be discovered in a work of literature anywhere in the world.” (Sten 5)
Especially peculiar to numerous readers of “Moby Dick” are the generous discourses on cetology and whaling included in the novel.
“An abrupt modification of direction in Moby-Dick happens at the thirty-second chapter. From the sharp, quick description of New Bedford and Nantucket and from the narrative speed of the adventures of the seaport, we move unexpectedly into bibliographical considerations of a pseudo-scholarly nature.” (Vincent 121)
Though the cetological recommendations in “Moby Penis” may, in the beginning seem naggingly incongruous with the hitherto established adventure-tragedy, as we will see in the following discussion, the narrative type and structure of “Moby Dick” is, in truth, can be shown to comprise a literary facsimile of the cetological science as Melville comprehended it in his time-period.
While it would be misleadingly easy to explain the narrative type of “Moby Penis” as “a whale,” this description, with minor adjustment, can be justified by a close reading of the unique and by an inquiry into the compositional concepts and influences that influenced Melville during the book’s structure. The aforementioned adjustment is this: that the narrative form of “Moby Penis” is constructed to stimulate the physiological composition of cetaceans insofar as the Moby Cock
“Great White Whale” consists of the main allegorical symbol in the unique, and, therefore, also signifies the creative desire of the artist from initial inspiration to final completion: “the extracts are the legendary material–“fragmentary, scattered, loosely related, often inconsistent”– out of which Melville’s epic poetry was made. (Sten 4)
It is important that “Moby Cock” be considered as possessing a strong, harmonious structure, despite the preliminary oddness and experimentalism of its surface level look. No place exists “waste in Moby-Dick; every concrete detail serves a double and triple function […] No detail is unleavened […] even such a chapter as “The Specksynder,” in the beginning seemingly unimportant, contributes to the designed impact of the whole novel. (Vincent 125)
To comprehend the utter necessity of Melville’s inclusion of comprehensive cetological material in “Moby Cock” it works to evaluate a few of the immediate influences on his idea and creative approach throughout the time of the book’s preliminary composition and extensive modifications.
As is well known, 2 of the most profound impacts on Melville throughout the composition of “Moby Dick” were William Shakespeare and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Despite the gulf of centuries in between these 2 writers, both were recent discoveries for Melville at the time of his writing “Moby Penis.”
Foremost amongst Melville’s gratitudes for each of these writers was his conviction that each of them had achieved a conflict with endemic evil in their works. “To understand the power of blackness at work in Melville’s imagination, we need to keep in mind that even while he was composing Moby-Dick, this omnivorous reader, the author, was discovering the plays of Shakespeare, especially King Lear, … and the allegorical fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne. (Tuttleton)
Shakespeare’s influence on Melville exerts itself in the inclusion of actual playscript in the course of the novel, regular asides and soliloquies, and most profoundly, on the awful scope
and figure of Captain Ahab. Hawthorne’s influence declares a much stronger relationship to the book’s symbolic and allegorical structures. In reality, Hawthorne’s own pioneering allegorical techniques might have offered the single most influential power on Melville’s conception of “Moby Penis.”
If Hawthorne had actually revealed Melville that “one American was expressively knowledgeable about the evil at the core of life,: he had also offered a narrative strategy appropriate for Melville’s own literary conflict with evil, “an understanding towards which Melville had actually been groping for seven years of authorship and of self-scrutiny, but which he had not entirely understood nor attempted to divulge.” (Vincent 37) This narrative technique relied most greatly on Hawthorne’s allegorical techniques. By investing standard components of storytelling with much deeper, more symbolically complicated significances, Hawthorne achieved an idiom which is both moralistic and confessional in nature.
An example of Hawthorne’s allegorical method is his unique “The Scarlet Letter.” In this unique, a battle between spiritual faith and wicked temptation comprises a central style.” This struggle is represented allegorically in the story by a mindful work of importance, character development, and plotting. Doing not have a recognized literary idiom which was broad sufficient to straight challenge the duality of his own ambiguous sensations toward Puritanism and human morality, Hawthorne established an intricate set of symbols and allegorical recommendations concurrently hide and explicate the confessional elements of the story.
Private things, characters, and components of the story therefore operate in “dual” roles, supplying, so to speak, overt and hidden information. In constructing a self-reliant iconography within the confines of a narrative, Hawthorne was required to lean rather on
the typically accepted meaning of specific things, places, and characteristics.
The allegorical approach, by articulating thematic concepts which challenge “cut and dried” descriptions of such profound realities as faith, morality, innocence, and the nature of good and wicked, allowed Hawthorne to look into concerns of the utmost individual profundity, but to express them within a language and symbolic structure that anyone could understand.
By reaching through his own personal doubt, regret, and religious ambivalence to find expression for the paradox and oppression of Puritanical dogma, Hawthorne was able to accept obscurity, instead of stolid religious fervor, as an ethical and spiritual reality. By utilizing the symbolic resonances of everyday objects, locations, and individuals in his fiction, Hawthorne had the ability to show the duality– the good and evil– in a ll things, and in all people, thus fixing up the large department of excellent and wicked as represented by the edicts of his (and America’s) Puritanical heritage.
Melville’s appreciation for Hawthorne’s effective development of a narrative type capable of expressing profound spiritual and philosophical themes of inspired him to raise the initial draft of his whaling adventure story, which hitherto had carefully resembled his popular “travelogue” works, such as “Typee.” Moby-Dick took six years to complete.” It was not till a signally successful reputation had been developed that Melville was prepared, as he put it, to “turn blubber into poetry.” (Vincent 15)
What Melville meant was to craft his erstwhile experience story, together with his detailed notes and observations and investigates into cetology and whaling into an allegorical book on par with what he esteemed Hawthorne to have carried out in his own books and short stories. Upon conclusion of “Moby Cock” Melville made his artistic debt to Hawthorne quite clear. “The godfather of Moby-Dick was ensured additional popularity when Melville gratefully devoted his whaling epic to Hawthorne “In Token of my Affection for his Genius.”” (Vincent 39)
Melville’s most obvious gesture towards Hawthorne-inspired allegory is, of course, the advancement of Moby Penis himself: the whale as the pervading, all-important and central symbol of the novel. This main sign connects deeply with the archetypal importance of the ocean, representing type emerging from watery mayhem or the primeval unconscious:
“In Moby-Dick this inner realm is obviously represented by the sea, a universal picture of the unconscious, where all the monsters and assisting figures of youth are to be found, together with the many talents and other powers that lie inactive within every adult. Chief among these, in Ishmael’s case, is the complicated picture of the Whale itself, which is all these things and more and also serves as the “herald” that calls him to his adventure. (Sten 7)
Related to in this light, the cetological information of “Moby Cock” get an additional power and connotative dimensions, as the initial “call to adventure” and the primary form which rises from the sea of the unconscious, the whale sign stands not just for the complex physical universe (type) however likewise as the explicative sign for the narrative building of the novel itself.” The cetological center recognizes the reality of Thoreau’s dictum: “we are made it possible for to nab at all what is superb and worthy just by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the truth that surrounds us.” […]
The cetological center of Moby-Dick is the keel to Melville’s artistic craft.” (Vincent 122) Even as technical descriptions of the whale’s anatomies are given in the novel, the non-scientific, anecdotal experiences of whales at sea as narrated by Ishmael, forward the marriage of whale-symbolism to the novel’s narrative kind. Upon his discourse of the “spirit-spout,” Ishmael remarks: “advancing still further and further in our van, this singular jet appeared permanently attractive us on.”
This connects to the lure of motivation, of the need for self-expression, for the very first intimations of the taking place artistic expression. The signal-spout of motivation leads the artist (author) toward his form. However it is initially, formless: just a haze of creative impulse and instinct: a signal on the horizon. Ishmael further notes that “that unnearable spout was cast by one self-same whale, which whale, Moby Cock.” This latter connotation suggests that inspiration flows form the ultimate harmonious conclusion; that is urge and objective are one, however that the unbiased kind is also combined tightly with style.
As Ishmael gains a more detailed, more intimate apprehension of whales, the development of his character and spiritual insight are similarly raised. The more comprehensive are the cetological experiences and catalogues, the more entirely meaningful and self-possessed and sure becomes Ishmael. “Moby-Dick is, among other things, an encyclopedia of cetological tradition having to do with every aspect of the whale– the clinical, zoological, oceanographic, mythic, and philological.
And it states Ishmael’s sluggish recovery from melancholia … These thematic components are sprinkled with chapters detailing Captain Ahab’s pursuit of the white whale” (Tuttleton). Still deeper correspondences between the cetological product and Melville’s narrative kind are developed in Ishmael’s descriptions of the whales “blubber” and “skin” which he presumes as being identical. This is reflected in the narrative structure of “Moby
Dick” where it is equally as hard to nab where the “skin” (overt style and storyline) of the novel ends and the “blubber” (cetological and whaling discourses and brochures) start. Melville makes it perfectly clear that the “blubber” is an as essential part of his unique as it is for the whale’s body. “For the whale is undoubtedly wrapt up in his blubber as in a genuine blanket or counterpane; or, still much better, an Indian poncho slipt over his head;”for that reason, too, is the expository material, the “blubber” of the unique twisted around its central, allegorical elements.
The realism of the cetological information in “Moby Penis” is outstanding. Numerous critics account it as a reputable source as any known from Melville’s time-period on cetology or whaling. This realism provides a concrete grounding for the book’s experience and theatrical presentations, along with for the highly focused importance that forwards Melville’s powerful themes. Once again, like a whale, Melville’s narrative type is massive and vast, however capable of vibrant flow and extraordinary speed. Seen in this regard, the cetological materials are not just deeply essential to give the unique “ballast;” they likewise offer its ultimate “sounding” or capability to probe fantastic depth of style and profundity.
The comprehensive cetological elements of “Moby Dick” may, certainly, avoid the reader from an easy, and immediate grasp of the novel’s “meaning” or perhaps its astounding climax. Simply as the whale’s hump is believed by Ishmael to hide the whale’s “true brain” while the more easily accessed “brain” understand to whalers is simply a know of nerves, the secret “core” of “Moby Cock” can only be pursued with perseverance and close, deep “cutting”due to the natural and unified nature of its narrative type.
By remembering the formerly gone over aspects of the relationship between “Moby Dick’s” extensive cetological materials and their symbolic relationship to the novel itself, its kind and themes, Ishmael, while discoursing on the desirability of whale meat as healthy food for humans, offers an ironic gesture towards the novel’s possible audiences. “But what further diminishes the whale as a civilized meal, is his exceeding richness. He is the excellent prize ox of the sea, too fat to be delicately excellent.”
The radically speculative kind of “Moby Dick” is an effective form which owes a financial obligation to its conception to the allegorical techniques of Nathaniel Hawthorne. By developing on
Hawthorne’s idiom, Melville attained a rigorously complicated, but precisely realized idiom, one which still challenges the perceptiveness and level of sensitivities of readers and critics to this day.
Sten, Christopher. Sounding the Whale: Moby-Dick as Epic Novel. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1996.
Tuttleton, James W. “The Character of Captain Ahab in Melville’s ‘Moby Penis.’.” World and I Feb. 1998: 290+.
Vincent, Howard P. The Trying-Out of Moby-Dick. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1949.