Moby Dick Structure of the Novel

‘Moby Dick is one of the greatest American novels, written by ‘Herman Melville’. The novel about in reflection, meditation, and miscellaneous comments on human life and human nature. The story of the novel is narrated by a man who calls himself, “Ishmael”. Moby Dick was written partly in an objective manner, and partly in a subjective manner. Herman Melville proves himself as the best story-teller. Structure From the ordinary reader’s point of view, the structure of ‘Moby Dick’ is very loose. The average novel reader feels upset, because the novel does not progress in a straightforward manner, but it is obstructed by extraneous matters. Critics:Some of the critics believe that Moby Dick has a unified structure, while the fact is that the structure of the Moby Dick is loose and episodic. Considerable Matter: There is ‘considerable matter’ in the novel which is not integral to its plot. At every step in the course of the narration the ‘extraneous matter’ interferes in the progress of the plot. Faults: There is a noteworthy aspect of the structure. The novel abounds in reflection and comments by the narrator, Ishmael. There are also the reflections of ‘Ahab and Starbuck’ but these reflection are integral to the navel because they reveal the essentials of the characters, of the speaker. Though Ishmael’s reflections and comments seem to hinder the progress of the novel. But Ishmael is the major character and the development of his mind and personality is one of the essential themes of the novel, so Ishmael’s reflections and comments cannot be regarded as violative of the structure. Narrative of Ishmael: The narrator of the story is Ishmael. Melville has written the story, using the first person. This means that Ishmael should describe only those events and episodes, which are either within his personal knowledge or which he has come to know from other. But we find in the novel is that the novel also contains those situations of which Ishmael has no knowledge, among such situations are the soliloquies and the monologues of ‘’Ahab’ and ‘Starbuck”. The objection is that how has Ishmael come to know that Starbuck, in one of his soliloquies, is thinking of his wife and child.? And how has Ishmael com to know that Ahab was addressing a dying whale? So, it means that Ishmael speaks as the mouthpiece of Melville himself. Thus Ishmael has a duel role. This device has been defended by some critics, but strictly speaking it is a fault. Too long to begin:An obvious fault in the construction of the plot of this novel is that the story proper takes too long to begin. First 21 chapters reveal such matters as the description of the spotter-inn, the Ishmael of Nantucket and so on. All these matters are certainly important but the voyage, which constitutes the main action of the novel, begin in the 22nd chapter. Story starts:After the voyage has once commenced, we would have expected a straightforward narrative. But that is not what we get. The next two chapters are extraneous to the story. Then follow half a dozen chapters, very important from the point of view of the story and characterization. Then the main story is resumed, and we come to one of the most important chapters containing a most dramatic episode. When Ahab administers as oath to his crew to hunt down Moby Dick and not to rest till they have done so. Cytology:A chapter namely “cetology” describes the different kind of whales, giving us the distinguishing features of each kind. This is a fairly long chapter containing much zoological information, but with no plot-development and no portrayal of character. This chapter provides much information about whales. But the fact remains that it hinders the progress of the story.

The chapter contains scatological details about whales, accounts of the pictures and paintings of whales, an analysis of the anatomy of whales with reference to the forehead, the nose, the ear, the tail and a description of the habits and behaviour of whale which obstruct the story and annoy the reader. In some chapters the plot develops briskly and dramatically. The chapters which contain extraneous matter and which interrupt the narrative at various points irritate the reader and weaken the dramatic effect. Some critics give their views that what we regard as extraneous chapters, have a legitimate place in the design of the novel. It is difficult to agree with the critics who have defended the inclusion in this novel of chapters which in the opinion of novel readers , are extraneous and which break the unity of its structure. Conclusion: In my opinion the real point of objection is that we have been given too much “cetological material” which cannot be defended on any groups whatever. The over abundance of cetological material almost swamps the reader, and greatly detracts from the interest of the narrative. Thus the structure of the novel is thus evidently loose and not compact.