Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Are you a believer?

Critics contend that this novel is full of ambiguity, even regarding Melville's views on Christianity. Is he a believer or a skeptic?


Mrs. Baird said...

This is such an appropriate question because I've been wondering the same thing myself, and I have to admit I can see how Melville seems to believe in Christianity, and how he may not. After doing some research as far as Melville's biography is concerned, one would know that he was not a Christian, and that he in fact almost 'detested' specific sects of Christianity, mostly on account of his upbringing and wife, but what is interesting to me is that one would think he was a believer by Ishmael's outlooks and philosophies he voices while on the Pequod. He is constantly refering to the Fates, which can be seen as God, and when he describes hell and the devil, he does so abhorrently, as if those things scared him. He clearly demonstrates his openness to religion, especially upon meeting with Queequeg and becoming familar with his rituals, but Queequeg does cross the line, and Ishmael denounces religion where one has to hurt themselves. My instinct tells me that Melville expressed his deepest thoughts regarding his faith through his character Ishmael, and that he indeed was a Christian after all.

Mrs. Baird said...

I really honestly don't know, at some points I think he believes with out a doubt. Pineappleisland coverd the part about the Bio and how according to that he was deffenetly not a christian, but just because your not a christian doesnt mean you cant believe in a higher power. I also agree wiht them that he is exspressing his thoughts through ishmale. Ishmael constantly seems to be struggling wiht fate and free will which is a big thing when belileving comes into play. They way moby is good and bad at the same time could also be a referance to god. It reminds me of the lion the witch and the wardrobe and Aslan questioned on weather he was good. But it is for sure that he knows alot about christianity at least enough to be able to have a set beliefe or disbeleafe because of the ammount of illusions he uses. I think that he for sure toiled wiht the Idea of believing and he does that all throughout the book wiht Ishmael and what he thinks and belives and notices!

wow that was alot of rambling sorry!

-Shark bait!

Mrs. Baird said...

My first instict was that he was a believer because of the constant biblical references and allusions to God and satan; however, I do not think he is a Christian (and after the findings from his bio I know that is accurate). Though there are constant references to Christianity, it seems as though Melville is questioning it, not supporting it. Our class had several debates on who was God or who was the devil, Moby fit into both of these catagories. Because there is so much debate over who Moby represents, it shows that his idea of good and evil are blurred and even interchanged at times, depending on perspective. I think Melville used the allusions and parallels to show his uncertainty in Christianity and how it is all simply ones belief, neither is right or wrong.