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MonkeyNotes-Typee by Herman Melville
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THEMES

Major theme

Melville has unfolded the possibility of primitive life being more conducive and acceptable than the comforts of civilized life. He has elaborated on the implicit faith and belief in the good over the bad that is present in the savages, which makes them better human beings. Whether there is truth in this or whether Melville has merely romanticized his beliefs is a moot point. But, in this novel, Melville through Tommo, has wished to make the reader understood the simplicity of the savages as against the varied complexities of the civilized man.

Minor theme

Along with the major theme, Melville has introduced a few minor Themes too. He has described how man can survive in a harsh, non-conducive environment if compelled to. Man is by nature, adaptable to his surroundings, and one can notice this ability in Tommo, who adapts and adjusts himself to his surroundings.

Manís capacity for evil has also been portrayed vividly in this novel. The blind hatred towards neighboring enemies, which prompts them to kill and physically consume them is repulsive, yet true in many tribal communities.

At the same time, their inherent goodness and civility towards the two foreigners is surprising. Melville has thus expanded on the fact that expected behavior of savagesí need not necessarily match with the truth. Even uncivilized, primitive savages can be good human beings, with strong beliefs and kind hearts.


MOOD

Throughout the novel the mood remains mostly adventurous, zestful, and spirited. The hazardous journey to Typee is completed with stoic determination and at the outset, on entering Typee, Tommo and Toby are not a little apprehensive about the Typees. But, once they begin living amongst them, they enjoy their new surroundings and the nativesí warmth and geniality. The mood then is spirited and wholesome, with Tommo filling up his greed for information and knowledge.

As the novel comes to a close, the mood becomes a little somber and forbidding, when Tommo realizes that he is a captive among savages and cannot escape from their clutches. Tommo imagines them to have evil design on him, and though not proved he still wishes to escape from them. The creeping feeling of terror is well introduced and this mood continues till Tommo finally escapes into his own native land and is back amongst his own people.

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