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This is Moby Dick Chapter 41: Moby Dick (summary)
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Ishmael was among those who shouted with the rest in the previous chapter. His oath of hunting and taking Moby Dick down is already welded with theirs. And it seemed that Ishmael had realized Ahab’s quenchless feeling.

In the past, this whale mostly haunted the seas the Sperm Whale fishermen passed. Thus, a few of them have already seen him and knew his existence. And because many ships scatter at the whole sea, it is without doubt that what many people have seen was Moby Dick. 

Moreover, this is no ordinary whale; he has an uncommon magnitude and malignity; he violently attacks people and escapes afterwards. 

In the beginning, some people had previously heard about Moby Dick and actually saw him, but still stubbornly and bravely fought him to death. Eventually, their stories shook the fortitude of even the most brave hunters. Consequently, only a few of those hunters would want to encounter the perils of his jaw.

Moreover, people didn’t fail to exaggerate the true stories they’ve heard. As a result, stories about the wonderfulness and fearfulness of the rumors circulated on every part of the sea. And sailors are the main storytellers about these for they have not only seen things with their eyes. Instead, they have personally fought against these creatures. 

There were still other and more vital influences at work besides all of these. One is the fact that many whalemen, even though intelligent and courageous enough to battle the Greenland or Right whales, refused to fight Moby Dick, for they have fearfully distinguished him from all the other whales. Furthermore, the strange tales of Southern whaling about Moby Dick has spread widely across the seas.

Even the naturalists Olassen and Povelson declared that the Sperm Whale not only scares the other sea creatures including sharks, but also ferociously thirst for human blood. Also, in the earlier days of the Sperm Whale fishery, people said that it’s not for mortal man to chase the Sperm Whale. Because if one attempts so, he would inevitably be torn immediately.  

Superstitious people say that Moby Dick is ubiquitous. Meaning, fishermen had encountered him in opposite latitudes at the same time. To support the claim, Ishmael said that the secrets of the seas haven’t yet been revealed and studied yet. After all, the Sperm Whale is large and fast enough that it can travel to large distances in no time. 

And because of all these stories and superstitions, the whalemen cannot help but believe in them. They even believe that Moby Dick’s not only ubiquitous, but also immortal. That even though hunters plant a thousand spears on his sides, he would still swim away unharmed. 

Nonetheless, even if one doesn’t believe in superstitions and supernatural things, he would still consider Moby Dick’s monstrousness as something extraordinary. For his prominent features are a peculiar snow-white wrinkled forehead, a high, pyramidical white hump, and titled as the White Whale.

Also, he suddenly turns around as he swims before his pursuers. And then, he smashes their ships to splinters to drive them back in fear to their ships. But even though many heard all these stories, along with the stories of the termination and dismemberment of a lot of fishermen, whale hunters would still foolishly track him down.

Once before, Captain Ahab with his three boats had surrounded Moby Dick. He dashed at the whale with his line-knife. Suddenly, Moby Dick sweeped his lower jaw beneath him and reaped his leg away. 

And with that, Ahab became a monomaniac. He put all the things that maddens and torments him the most, along with all the evil he knows, into Moby Dick. He stacked up all the rage and hate his whole race has felt into that whale. 

But Ahab didn’t become mad immediately after Moby Dick had dismembered him. Instead, while they were forced to go on a home voyage, Ahab was in complete anguish for many long months. 

Eventually, at intervals during this home voyage, he raved on his hammock like a lunatic. And though he’s lost a leg, his insanity intensified his powerful strength. Consequently, this forced his mates to lace him up. 

After a few days, it seemed that the old man’s craziness left. And so he came out calm and began giving orders once again. Wherefore, the crew thanked God that his madness has already gone. 

However, Ahab has actually hidden his true madness inside himself. Human madness is sometimes cunning; when you think it has fled, it may have transformed into a subtler form and into something much worse.

That may have what happened to Ahab, but his darker and deeper part remains unknown. Yet, his undeniable insanity became popularly known at sea, especially on board the Pequod. He became so full of rage and wildness.

But for this very reason, people considered him the most qualified of all to pursue the monster. And even though he has his limitations, he’s still someone who can cheer and howl on his underlings to attack Moby Dick with full brute force. 

In conclusion, Ahab’s intent in sailing, is not for tangible profit, but for audacious revenge. That’s why his officers seemed to be specially picked to support him with his monomaniac revenge. Furthermore, it seemed that his hate for the White Whale became theirs, so that Ahab’s evil intent possessed and influenced them to hunt Moby Dick down.

But as for Ishmael, he may have given himself up to the decision of the crew. But he admitted he couldn’t see anything in Ahab’s pursuit but the deadliest ill. 

End of Moby Dick Chapter 41: Moby Dick (summary)
End of Moby Dick Chapter 41: Moby Dick (summary)

Next Chapter: Moby Dick Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale (summary)

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