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Free Study Guide-Moby Dick by Herman Melville-Free Booknotes Summary
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PLOT ANALYSIS (Structure)

As stated elsewhere, the novel Moby Dickdoes not follow the classical form of a novel, which has a unity. A unified plot has a beginning, middle and an end. In other words, the writer begins with some character or problem, followed by a conflict which the character overcomes or is overcomed by it. In the novel, Moby Dick, one does not see such a pattern at all. The writer lets the story rise and fall many times and often interrupts the narrative flow to reflect on subjects related to the whaling industry. So, there are several high points in the story, instead of one definite climax. The climax in the story is when the ship Pequodís sails are damaged due to the storm at sea. But the plot again fails to rise in the last three chapters where Ahab sights the white whale, and the boats are lowered for a chase.


The book is comprised of 134 chapters and ends with a short epilogue. Here, the narrator sums up the story on the Pequod that has such a tragic end. But the end does not come as a surprise to the reader, as the writer conveys the message of doom and disaster right from the time the ship sets sail from Nantucket.

With Moby Dick, Melville began to be ranked with that generation of American writers in the mid 1800s who did not turn to England for inspiration. Instead American writers like Melville appeared who wrote about their own country and its people. They experimented with literary forms and put forth many new ideas.

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