Moby-Dick

by: Herman Melville

Suggested Essay Topics

Writing help Suggested Essay Topics

Why does Ishmael include so many digressions in his narrative? Why does he draw on so many other disciplines (geology, art, biology)? Choose one of these digressions (the chapter on “Cetology,” for example) and discuss the ways in which it comments on the main narrative.

Describe Ishmael’s method of narration. Is he reliable or unreliable as a narrator? Why is he the one to tell this story? What would the narrative have been like if Ahab were the narrator?

How is the concept of fate used to organize the narrative? Does fate justify Ahab’s actions? What is the relationship between fate and prophecy? What does fate have to do with religion, particularly Christianity?

Explain some of the biblical references in Moby-Dick. How does Melville use the Bible as a literary model and as a source for thematic material?