Character profile for Captain Ahab from Moby-Dick, or, the Whale (page 1)
Baddies in books: Captain Ahab, the obsessive, revenge-driven nihilist
Captain Ahab , fictional character, a one-legged captain of the whaling vessel Pequod in the novel Moby Dick , by Herman Melville. From the time that his leg is bitten off by the huge white whale called Moby Dick, Captain Ahab monomaniacally pursues his elusive nemesis. Captain Ahab. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback.
Like the heroes of Greek or Shakespearean tragedy, Ahab suffers from a single fatal flaw, one he shares with such legendary characters as Oedipus and Faust. His tremendous overconfidence, or hubris, leads him to defy common sense and believe that, like a god, he can enact his will and remain immune to the forces of nature. He considers Moby Dick the embodiment of evil in the world, and he pursues the White Whale monomaniacally because he believes it his inescapable fate to destroy this evil. According to the critic M. Unlike the heroes of older tragic works, however, Ahab suffers from a fatal flaw that is not necessarily inborn but instead stems from damage, in his case both psychological and physical, inflicted by life in a harsh world. He is as much a victim as he is an aggressor, and the symbolic opposition that he constructs between himself and Moby Dick propels him toward what he considers a destined end. Home Literature Moby-Dick Ahab.
Queequeg’s native island is called
Long before Ahab's first appearance, there is an air of mystery about the captain of the Pequod. The owners hire the crew in Ahab's absence.
What can we say we know about him? His crew say he never sleeps, only tosses in bed. None of the crew knows where he got it, but they all know how he lost his leg. During the course of this long, painful journey Ahab came to fix all his hatred on the White Whale. Yet the power of his charisma is such that he can communicate his extreme, dangerous hatred to an entire crew, even educated, sensitive and openhearted Ishmael.
He is the monomaniacal captain of the whaling ship Pequod. On a previous voyage, the white whale Moby Dick bit off Ahab's leg, and he now wears a prosthetic leg made out of whalebone. The whaling voyage of the Pequod ends up as a hunt for revenge on the whale, as Ahab forces the crew members to support his fanatical mission. When Moby Dick is finally sighted, Ahab's hatred robs him of all caution, and the whale drags Ahab to the bottom of the sea. Melville biographer Andrew Delbanco calls Ahab "a brilliant personification of the very essence of fanaticism". Matthiessen calls attention to the fact that Ahab is called an "ungodly god-like man". Ahab's "tragedy is that of an unregenerate will" whose "burning mind is barred out from the exuberance of love" and argues that he "remains damned".