An American character.
An American Character
The whiteness of the whale is an excerpt that has examined the contemporary American and the qualities that are attributed to them to define such American individuals. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to determine to what extent the early writings have analyzed an American and the concepts it puts forth on the same subject matter. In the event of trying to obtain the link between the meaning of an American legend and the objects use to depict the same, the paper would proceed through the following setting. The paper will first describe the context of the writing and then proceed to outline the discussions that are drawn from it that are pointing to an American as a legend. Finally, a conclusion on the topic of discussion will be included and will form the summary of the discussion with a general conclusion on the very topic of focus in the paper (Dameron 96).
Moby-Dick or the whale is referred to like on the most outstanding work of Romanticism and the American Renaissance. In this narration, Ishmael describes the quest of Ahab, the ship captain, on his revenge mission to find the whale that previously attacked him at sea destroying his ship and harming his legs. The document, however, was viewed by several scholars as fail. It was until the mid-20th century that the importance of the writing was gaining recognition. On the journey at sea, and in the process of the narration, the aspect of American legend is brought to light. Through the discussions or the narratives, we find out that the character of an American legend has been explicitly analyzed. The excerpt determines that the concept of whiteness can be associated with the good and the bad as discussed in the following section (Glenn 165).
First, we find the superiority of the white depicted in the items the name is associated with and are supposed to mean. The name, “white,” in this context has been associated with several titles as well as things that are perceived by the community or society as real or rather put, things that the society upholds as perfect. During the time of that, the author of the document presented his ideology, the type of robes that an individual would put on mostly defined their social and economic status. In this case, we find that the white dress, then and now, is regarded as one of the best among the others. The link between the two only shows the superiority of the white among the others. Several items on the list of the best things as perceived by humans, then and even in the contemporary world, have or are associated with white as a color (Morrison 101).
Additionally, whiteness, as in the excerpt has been related to several titles that are valued in the society. Titles of Kings and even those that associated with the religion have been linked to the greatness of the whites or better put have been given titles with the element of whiteness in it or some aspect that would point to the same. For example, the title, “The Lord of White Elephants,” as coined by the old kings of Pegu confirms the analogy. It has also been determined that several nations have used the same analogy in defining the items they use as their symbols. Apart from that, whiteness is attributed to beauty. In this context, the term “white,” has been said to refine and at the same time enhance beauty. Equally, whiteness is linked to gladness which to the Romans it meant that finding a white stone in any setting in an individual’s life would mean that joy awaits that person at any moment in the future (Glenn 170).
The aspect of whiteness has also been defined as superior regarding their culture. It would mean that the same whites see the white as a race as above all the other races in all the aspects or areas of life. According to the writer, the article defines the white has to be cultureless. It, therefore, means that, it being so, they are the standard to which the other cultures are examined or measured. Still, it can be argued from the point of the writer that the other cultures that are not in any way white are barbaric and way much below the standard of the white as a culture or race. With this analogy, it is arguable that the white, as superior as it is suggested has contributed to the civilization that the world has registered starting with the formal education and the other aspects of culture as seen in the contemporary world. This would include the aspect of American heroism that is one of the aspects that define the aspect of an American legend or character concisely (Dameron 100).
On the contrary, the theme of an American character, in the same excerpt has been associated with dangerous things, forces, and even situations. In this setting, the first example would be the whale that attacked Ahab, the captain and harmed as well as destroyed his ship in his old sail in the sea. A Polar bear that Ishmael is afraid of is also known to be white. In one of the accounts of the narration, Ishmael says that the Mariners are always afraid of the white waters simply because of the fear of damaging their ship and putting the entire crew in jeopardy. A good number of people are also scared of snow and sailors too are afraid of the Antarctic seas. Further, he supposes that though people would be afraid of some white items, this that doesn’t mean that they are frightened of such items or associations (Morrison 110).
In conclusion, the paper has outlined the meaning of the excerpt, “The Whiteness of the Whale.” The focus of the passage was on the matter of the superiority of the white to the other ethnic groups. The accounts of the paper are through a defined sequence of events to bring out the meaning of the text. The paper first focused on the context of the writings of the excerpt showing the narration of Ishmael and that of Ahab, the captain of the ship. In that order, the greatness of the white has been described through the associations or links made on the same to the other objects and items. The findings here show that the whiteness has always been associated with the perfect things of the society. The links only confirm the domination of the white to the other cultures. On the contrary, the term “white” has also been used to show or depict the evil and horrible things in the society.
Dameron, J. Lasley. “Melville and Scoresby on whiteness.” English Studies 74.1 (1993): 96-104.
Glenn, Barbara. “Melville and the Sublime in Moby-Dick.” American Literature (1976): 165-182.
Morrison, Toni. “Unspeakable Things Unspoken: The A fro-American Presence in American Literature.” (1988).