Moby-Dick, a novel by Herman Melville, was first published in 1851 as Moby-Dick; or The Whale. This vastly ambitious novel functions as a documentary of life at sea and a vast philosophical allegory of life in general. Moby-Dick received a lukewarm reception upon publication and remained largely ignored until the 1920s, when literary historians looking to construct an American literary tradition championed it. It is now considered both a seminal work about classic American themes, such as religion, fate, and economic expansion, and a radically experimental anachronism that anticipated Modernism in its outsized scope and mixture of forms.


See a complete list of the characters in Moby-Dick and in-depth analyses of Ishmael, Ahab, Moby Dick, and more.

Literary Devices

Here is where you will find analysis of the main themes, symbols, and motifs in Moby-Dick.


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Deeper Study

Go further in your study of Moby-Dick by reading background information about Herman Melville and his novel as well as mini essays on key topics.