Moby Dick (G block)

Alex E., Trevor G., and Anjan S.

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Biography of Author

Herman Melville was born on August of 1819. Although he is most well-known from the famous tale of Moby Dick he had a wide array of other writings. He was born and raised in New York City in a large family of 10 with 2 older siblings and 5 younger. Although Melville received praise for his other books during his life Moby Dick was not recognized for its brilliance till well after his death in the early 20th century. Herman is said to have spent majority of his childhood being raised by his grandfather Thomas Melville, who was an active participant in the Boston Tea Party. In 1850 Herman married Elizabeth Shaw; they lived in a small house in NYC and had 4 children: two sons, and two daughters. Melville spent a lot of his young adult life aboard a ship at sea as he travelled place to place searching for work. This is where he probably got his idea of ship life, which he commonly wrote about. When Melville wasn’t working at sea he had a job as a teacher in a local university, but Herman was said to be truly most fascinated by the sea.

In most cases Melville was forced to sea due to financial issues because his writing wasn't taking much popularity. But there was a point when him and his family grew very desperate for any source of money, and neither Herman's sea job, nor his writings would cut it. When the civil war began Herman tried for a slot in the Navy, but even then he was rejected. Fortunately and unfortunately they received an inheritance from Shaw's father death, and they were able to get by on that. Even though not directly involved with the war it did have an impact on Melville, which is what compelled him to write Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War. Finally after that he received a steady income from a customs operator at the New York docks. Melville died in his small house in NYC from poor health at age 72.

-Anjan Sapasetty

History of Whaling

Whaling has been going on since before Christ's time. Pots inscribing porpoise and Dolphin hunting display the most primitive for m of hunting. However, that type of shallow water harpooning was nothing compared to what America's whaling industry would become. By the 1700's, ships were created that could travel into deep parts of the ocean to capture huge sperm and even blue whales. A northern advancement, whaling was perfected in the 18th Century, when whaling In northern cities like Nantucket and New Bedford offered a hoard of wealth for those willing to participate in the dangerous battle with whales. That is the setting of Moby Dick, which shows a group of men far at sea battling with a whale. 12 years after the publication of Moby Dick a harpoon gun was invented, shortening the need for strong harpoon marksmen such as Queequeg. With new technological advancements, whales were hunted to near extinction in nearly all species. Today, whales are protected and the use of their blubber is no longer needed to fuel candles. However, in places such as Japan, illegal whaling still occurs. What was once a vital part of our economy is now gone, and the adventure of a hunt of most epic proportions can only now be remembered in books like Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

-Alex East

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History of the Book

This book was written in 1851 by Herman Melville. It is romantically written, pieced together by lengthy metaphors and elegant language. This style of writing was very common at this time period. Melville's writing is also dedicated to his fellow romantic author Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of Young Goodman Brown. Moby Dick, upon its release, was not the most popular of writings at the time. However, a few years after Melville's death the book gained in popularity until it was rose to become one of today's classics. Recently, the book has been transformed into a wide variety of screenplays. Moby Dick is a classic, romantic novel that has entertained readers and movie viewers over many generations. Check out this entertaining trailer from Warner Brother's own 1956 version of Moby Dick.

-Alex East

History of time period when the novel/memoir was written

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During the 1850’s, tensions were rising in the United States of America between the South and the North over power and control of the country. With the South rapidly losing politically power, it was an inevitability that the South would eventually have to acquiesce to the policies of the North. The South’s entire economy was based on the institution of slavery, and with the majority of the North supporting the stop of the extension of slavery to the western territories; the South feared that the North would strip away their economic backbone. The country was politically dominated by the democrats, and many of these democrats supported popular sovereignty. When the country acquired a large amount of land from the Mexican American War, the country had to figure out what to do with the extra land. This increased pressures between the North and South. Much of the north supported either the non-extension of slavery into the western territories or the idea of popular sovereignty; however, the South thought that slavery should be extended to the west since it was mostly southern men who fought in the war. Tensions exploded in Kansas when popular sovereignty proved to be an ineffective compromise. Compromise could not solve the issue of slavery, and the country was headed for war.

Also during this time period, the North depended on manufacturing and trade while the South depended on agriculture. In the South, there was a huge class difference. Only a fraction of the population owned any slaves and even fewer individuals owned large plantations. Public education was not supported in the South, so only the few rich had an education and controlled politics. The South and most of the country was ruled by the wealthy and was run in the interest of the wealthy. Women still had absolutely no voting rights and were generally suppressed to the menial task of taking care of the house and their husbands; however, the increasingly industrial North gave women some economic opportunities. Immigrants continued to pour into the United States generally being Irish or German. The Irish, who were almost always dirt poor, were attracted to the crowded manufacturing cities of the North, while the Germans were attracted to agricultural lands further west. Also, the whaling business was very popular especially in the North East because whale oil was used in lamps and candles.

Pageant of American History

-Trevor Gordon

Map of Nantucket
Map of Nantucket

Book Reviews of Moby Dick

Video Project

Themes and Metaphors in video:

- Moby Dick: A Modern Adaptation starts with Herman Melville (Author) and his wife because the character Ahab is as obsessed with the destruction of Moby Corporation as Herman is with writing the novel. This is symbolized because Trevor plays both roles.
- Each company is a ship in the original version. The Jeroboam, Enderby and Pequod are all ships in the book.
- The blanket symbolizes Queequeg’s coffin in the original version. This is what Ishmael uses to escape a fiery death.
- The explosion was caused by Ahab in our version because that is the way we see him in the book. He is the cause of his own demise, not Moby. The greatest claim made by our film was that it is Ahab’s over ambition that causes such great tragedy to happen.