water & art, water culture

Herman Melville and Whaling

2 Comments 14 April 2011

Herman Melville and Whaling

In the days of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, to go whaling was a suitable profession, a chance at adventure, even a source of literary inspiration.

For Ishmael, the main character in Moby Dick, whaling was a indeed a noble and necessary profession. And the great leviathan, or the whale, was pursued closely and hunted carefully.

Now, the tides have turned sharply in cultural attitudes about whaling. International and marine laws that make whale hunting illegal would probably make Melville turn in his Woodlawn Cemetery grave in the Bronx, NY.

In Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick, whales were hunted for the oil that their bodies produced. Oil could be bought and sold in local marketplaces, making whaling captains, harpooners, and shipmates, a bit richer.

Now, organizations are actively working to prohibit illegal hunting of maritime animals. Even as Melville alludes to in the greatest work of American fiction, humanity’s vain contention with nature and her grandest creatures will never truly be successful.

“Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll! Ten thousand blubber-hunters sweep over thee in vain,” writes Melville.

Alas, centuries later, whale hunters are still fighting a perpetually never winning battle. As Melville’s novel unfolds, the reader becomes chiefly aware of the man’s vulnerabilities as he meddles with nature’s affairs.

Whale hunters didn’t win in the day’s of Ishmael who road along the Pequod ship, directed by the “not sick, but not quite well,” Captain Ahab.

The grand leviathan and the pervasive vindictiveness that the whale instilled in Captain Ahab, was vaster than the depths of the Earth’s deepest waters.

Yet still, whale captains and hunters take up the battle of Captain Ahab, and seek to take arms against a still more powerful leviathan.

As whales are a tough animal to contend with, some whale hunters are a tough crew to send a clear message to.

Whaling hunting is threatening endangered species and the future of whales on planet Earth. They must be stopped.

But who could stop a crazed captain with an eye on overdue vengeance for a single whale in the Pacific? Who will truly stop whale hunters now?

What would Melville say if he encountered the action of leading organizations that are organized to stop whale hunting?

Would he support the profession that drove Ishmael to the seven seas?

Or, would he take a stand against the institution of whale hunting for once and for all?

If you enjoyed this article, you should also read:

BCBInc’s 7 Day Charity Challenge in Full Throttle

Empowering Women with Water

Repairing Water Wells in Africa When the Well Runs Dry

EPA Enviro-Justice Award for Puerto Rico Plan

Did Justice Prevail? Inequity in Fines Paid for Oil Spill

Underwater Forensics is Solving Sea Crimes

Your Comments

2 Comments so far

Share your view

Post a comment



© 2011 WaterWideWeb.org. Powered by WaterWideWeb.