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The protagonist of the novel is Ahab, the one-legged captain of the Pequod. He is bound and determined to get revenge on Moby Dick for biting off his leg.
Captain Ahabís antagonist is Moby Dick, the great whale.
The climax occurs when Captain Ahab throws the first harpoon into Moby Dick, not phasing the creature. At that point, it is clear that Ahab will not be able to kill the whale.
The outcome of the plot is tragic. Captain Ahab drowns in the sea while trying to kill Moby Dick. Meanwhile the angry whale rams its massive head into the Pequodís side and the ship sinks. The lone survivor of the novel is Ishmael.