Content excerpt

MOBY DICK, An American Tale (for POLIS--published in Warsaw, Poland)

By Robin Dorman (

This is the very American story of the hunt, conquering something, having the desire to overwhelm nature, that lies at the heart of the proud and willful Captain Ahab. The captain is a hero of thought, of will, who is trying, by brute force, to re-establish the individual’s place in nature, to create a sense of connection with his world. It is the struggle between striving to find meaning in nature and the cruel and savage indifference of nature itself. Melville is on nature's side: one sees and appreciates the whale's view of things far more than that of Ahab's. With the rise of the common individual in America, Melville wrote a tragedy out of the rise, and terrible fall, of the very uncommon Ahab. The drama of Ahab is his lusty and maniacal hate for the White Whale, Moby Dick, and his vengeful pursuit of it from the moment the ship plunges into the Atlantic. He seeks to dominate nature, to inflict his will on the outside world, the crew, and the White Whale. Ahab, gone mad, concentrated all space into the form of a whale, something immensely big and white, the symbol of "all that most maddens and torments, all that stirs up the lees of things, all truth with malice in it, all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain, all the subtle demonisms of life and thought, all evil--visibly personified."

Copyright © and Robin Dorman, 2001-2010. All rights reserved. Reproduction of content or images in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited.