The superiority of the natives
Melville argues repeatedly that the native culture is superior to most found in civilization. Although so-called "civilized" people condemn natives as "heathens" who engage in barbarism, actually natives are nothing of the kind. The Typees, for example, t
reat each other with far more civility than people do in urban cities. The Types generously share food with one another. They do not lie, cheat, or steal. Furthermore, no portions of society are left starving and destitute because of debt or poverty, as s
o frequently is the case in Europe and the States. Although the Typees live a less intellectual existence, their lifestyle is one of bliss and relative peacefulness in a kind valley. The natives could teach Europeans many things about how to be less barba
ric, Melville feels, but ironically it is the Europeans who call them savage.
Harsh conditions on a whaling ship
This is a minor theme but one that continues in many of Melville's texts, which usually either profile whaling or naval ships. In Typee, Melville just provides a general condemnation of a cruel captain who treats his crew in an inhumane manner. Captain Vangs could thus be compared to other malicious captains in Melville's tales, such as Captain Vere in Billy Budd. Even though Melville's discussion of abuses on ships affected a relatively small amount of people in the world, his attention
to such abuse did have results. Following the publication of White Jacket, for example, the United States Congress outlawed the practice of flogging on all naval ships. In Typee, Melville only briefly describes the cruelties of ship life, a