The use of voice is an all-important tool in the art of storytelling. The voice of the author or main characters is easily changed to reflect the common themes and feelings in the story. In the Herman Melville novel Typee, Melville puts his voice in to the story through the use of the main character Tommo. At times Melville gives Tommo a sympathetic voice that is concerned with other characters as well as himself. Although Tommo has a sympathetic voice, Melville has Tommo's voice change from one story to the next. Melville also uses Tommo to come across as sarcastic, anecdotal and full of irony. All of these are ways in which Melville used the main character Tommo to put forth his own voice Melville's sympathetic voice in Typee comes to surface through Tommo's concern for other characters in the novel. The ship that Tommo is traveling on has been at sea for six months.
"Poor old ship! Her very look denotes her desires: how deplorably she appears!"Ã¯Â¿Â½ Tommo comes across as if he is almost sorry for the ship to still be at work without "one moment of rest."Ã¯Â¿Â½ Tommo even becomes concerned that "poor Pedro's fate was sealed."Ã¯Â¿Â½ Pedro, the last chicken and Captains pet, is slated to be cooked at the sight of land. Tommo's sympathetic voice is shown towards many of the characters of this novel.
This sympathetic voice that Melville puts in Tommo is not reserved for others, as at many points Tommo feels sorry for himself. The moment when Tommo realizes he may never escape he is engrossed in sorrow. "How vividly is impressed upon my mind every minute feature of the scene which met my view during those long days of suffering and sorrow!"Ã¯Â¿Â½ During this time that Tommo feels sorry because he is captive he begins to sulk about his illness. "I was reduced to such a state, that it was with extreme difficulty I could walk."Ã¯Â¿Â½ The sympathetic voice that Melville put through Tommo is not centered on a single protagonist but it attaches to Tommo and others.
The voice that is speaking through Tommo often is ever-changing from story to story. When Tommo speaks of Fayaway, his female friend, the voice comes across as easy and light. "I must except the beauteous nymph. Fayaway, who was my peculiar favorite. Her free pliant figure was the very perfection of female grace and beauty."Ã¯Â¿Â½ Tommo seems to put Fayaway on a figurative pedestal where she is above all other females. "The hands of Fayaway were as soft and delicate as those of any countess; for an entire exemption from rude labour marks the girlhood and even prime of a Typee woman's life."Ã¯Â¿Â½ Tommo even goes as far to say Fayaway is granted an exception to the long-standing rule of having no females in any canoe. Tommo is obviously infatuated with Fayaway and he never seems to put forth a bad voice when she is his subject.
As soon as the subject changes from Fayaway you can sense the change in tone Melville puts through Tommo. Even as he has Fayaway on a pedestal he often talks down when speaking of the Type culture. "The native even though they have developed their own unique, culture, language, and customs are not advancing and they are not civilized."Ã¯Â¿Â½ Tommo is not fond of the Frenchmen in the novel. When the French admiral went to meet the savages he "exhibited upon his person all the paraphernalia of his naval rank"ÃÂ¦. While the simple islander"ÃÂ¦ appeared in all the nakedness of nature."Ã¯Â¿Â½ From this meeting Melville foreshadows Tommo's loyalty to the Typee. "Insensible as he is to a thousand wants, and removed from harassing cares may not the savage be the happier of the two?"Ã¯Â¿Â½ The ever-changing tone of voice in this novel varies from story to story, page to page and should be picked up upon to understand what Melville is trying to say through Tommo.
Melville adds some sarcasm to voices other that Tommo's. Toby, Tommo's sidekick, is one character that Melville feeds some irony through. When the two are watching the Typee people cook Tommo becomes full of fear that he and Toby are the planned meal. Toby who notices this fear becomes sarcastic and plays off the fear of Tommo. "What can all this mean, Toby "ÃÂOh nothing,' replied he; "ÃÂgetting the fire ready, I suppose.' "ÃÂFire!' exclaimed I while my heart took to a beating like a trip-hammer, "ÃÂwhat fire?' "ÃÂwhy the fire to cook us, to be sure; what else would the cannibals be kicking up such a row about if it were not for that?"Ã¯Â¿Â½ Although Toby continued to speak of it with little fear as if he knew nothing of the sort was to occur, Tommo was breaking out in a cold sweat. Melville use of Toby's sarcastic voice to play upon the fear of Tommo was great in this story.
Throughout the novel Melville's voice comes across as sarcastic and full of irony. Reading the voice Melville puts through Tommo one can identify the stories that are embellished and those that are factual. It is ironic how Melville wrote "those things which I have stated as facts will remain facts, in spite of whatever the bigoted or incredulous may say or write against them. My reflections, however, on those facts may not be free from error."Ã¯Â¿Â½ The mere presence of this statement in the novel leads one to become suspicious of the writings.
Melville has interjected his own voice in this novel through the mouth of Tommo and other characters. Melville's sympathetic voice was not reserved for the single protagonist, Tommo, but it was cast on other characters as well. The ever-changing voice of Tommo is how Melville got to embellish his stories and plagiarize other authors. Melville also had Tommo and Toby seem very sarcastic and full of irony at many points of this book. All throughout Typee one can feel Melville's voice emerging to relay different themes and feelings this made Typee a very interesting and good novel.