Sunday, December 2, 2007

Blossom of a Look

Journal No. 12

English 48A
Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I chose: Herman Melville

I. "More than once did he put forth the faint blossom of a look, which, in any other man, would have soon flowered out in a smile."

II. Herman Melville describes Captain Ahab in Ishmael's voice.

III. Ishmael observes that Captain Ahab is almost always in a foul mood. He often hides out in his cabin for days on end. However, once the weather becomes a little less gloomy, Captain Ahab's personality slowly starts to shift as well. He is connected - like a vein - to the conditions of the sea and of his ship. As Melville describes Ishmael's observations, he compares Captain Ahab to the changes of the seasons. "As when the red-cheeked, dancing girls, April and May, trip home to the wintry misanthropic woods; even the barest, ruggedest, most thunder-cloven old oak will at least send forth some few green sprouts, to welcome such glad-hearted visitants; so Ahab did, in the end, a little respond to the playful allurings of that girlish air" (2337). As the weather changes, not even the moping captain can escape the effects of the sunshine and the calm seas.

Captain Ahab is described to the reader as a flawed, brooding person whose emotions shift with the directions of the winds. The reader would most likely expect the captain of a whaling ship to be outgoing and commanding. However, as we see in Captain Ahab, his human qualities fall far below what his men expect of him. Perhaps it is his obsession with Moby Dick, perhaps it is another ghost which haunts him even more. Either way, Captain Ahab's shifting moods remind us just how vulnerable we all are.


drscottie said...

20/20 Mood monster.