"The Scarlet Letter" How would the characters see the white whale? Mentiones also Melville's Moby Dick

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA, March 1997

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In Melville's Moby Dick our narrator, Ishmael, has a unique view on the great white whale. '...all these are but subtle deceits, not actually inherent in substances, but only laid on from without; so that all deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, whose allurement's cover nothing but the charnel-house within...' By examining his remarks, we can tell he is a very down-to-earth man; however, Melville uses a common theme of 'how do you know for sure'. He is saying, many times throughout the novel, that maybe nothing has any meaning. Despite this, Ishmeal gives numerous examples of what white can mean (i.e. the horror of an albino, or beauty of a white steed etc.) and proceeds to say Moby Dick is all of these things, 'Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt?' He is esentially asking us 'if you lived in a world where nothing had any meaning, and a great white whale was taunting you to give chase, what would you do?'

My method of attacking the question, how would the three main characters from Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter see the whiteness of the whale?, is going to be a comparison to Melville's characters.

The first comparison is between Hester Prynne and Ishmael. Hester Prynne is a brave lady who faces her sin, as seen in her ability to face severe ridicule on the scaffold. Ishmael is a brave young man who handles any conflict with a strong will, as seen in his agreement to sign onto a whaling ship without knowing the captain. It is also seen in his ability to share a bed with a stranger, and share in his religious activities, and to eventually make a life long committment to the stranger. Hester Prynne is a loving woman who never reveals the identity of her...