In the novel Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, a microcosm lives in the Pequod. Throughout the story, the microcosm is apparent in the control and superiority of Captain Ahab, friendship, religion, and the struggles of good and evil. The Pequod symbolizes the views, actions, thoughts, and the various types of people in the world.

Ahab’s power and authority show that he is the leader in this small world. He conjures allegiance and fear out of the crew. Dagoo, Tashtego, and Queequeg are the minorities on the ship(for obvious reasons) and represent the minorities of the world. They band together when one is in danger. Starbuck is very religious and portrays the devout of the world. His faith and reverence keep him sane during the long journey. The rest of the crew depicts the average people of the world. They show how gullible and vulnerable we can be sometimes.
To win over the crew, Ahab uses his knowledge of human nature to coax them into helping him with his vengeance. The first thing he does is nails the gold doubloon to the mast and promises it to the first man to see Moby Dick. By doing so, he makes them remember what their reward will be when they see the whale. Next he gives them rum to reach the gluttonous side of man. This shows that we are weak and give in to pleasure. After that he cuts his palm, squeezes the blood out, drips it in the rum and tells them to drink it. This shows Ahab trying to get to the religious aspect of man by having them drink his blood like they would with Christ’s at Mass. Finally, he takes the St. Elmo’s Fire and makes it disappear. This appeals to the non-Christians who see him as a godlike figure when doing this.

Through much manipulation, Ahab is able to win over most of the crew. They feel his passion and need for revenge on the whale and fail to realize why they are really out at sea. His “magical” powers captivate Queequeg. He kisses his boots and proclaims “Me god, me god.” Flask and Stubb remain loyal throughout the voyage. They never stop to question Ahab, even when Starbuck confronts them and says it is their legal right to have a mutiny when the captain does not abide by the rules. Starbuck is a very moral and religious man. He does not want to follow Ahab, but must comply with his wishes. He realizes the evil of Ahab, and does not fall prey to his control. Ishmael also sees that Ahab is crazy with his obsession and power, but does nothing about it.

The obsessive nature of Ahab is what causes the downfall of this small world. He refuses to stop until he gets his revenge on the whale that took not only his leg, but his manhood. He feels that the attack on him was not just that, but on mankind and he takes it upon himself to inflict revenge on the beast. Ahab is the ultimate representation of evil in this world. His soul is consumed with hate for Moby Dick and occupies every thought. At the end of the story, Ahab is almost a changed man with the help of Starbuck, but immediately goes back to his old self when a crew member spots the whale. He departs to hunt the whale himself and leaves the Pequod almost unmanned.

The conditions and the inhabitants of the Pequod symbolize the world as a whole. It was their own world for several years, and can be compared with the real world. Hypocrisies and totalitarianism exist in both worlds. The members of the crew are as diverse as the people in the real world. Some are pagan, some are Christian, some are weak, some are strong. The characters establish friendships and alliances. All the aspects of the ship corresponded to the aspects of the world.

Category: Miscellaneous