Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course. Log in or Sign up. Most people who have heard of Herman Melville's classic Moby-Dick will be familiar with its central story, which is Captain Ahab's relentless pursuit of the White Whale. In fact, Captain Ahab and Moby Dick have become synonymous with the idea of obsession ; you might hear someone say something like, 'oh, that's his white whale,' which usually means that it is the object of someone's obsession. In Moby-Dick , Ahab is the captain of the whaling ship Pequod , which sails around the world in pursuit of whales. Ahab, however, is focused on locating one particular whale: the White Whale who was responsible for the loss of Ahab's leg.
The music score was written by Philip Sainton. Set in 19th-century New England , the story follows the whaling ship Pequod and its crew. Leading them is Captain Ahab , who was almost killed in an encounter with the "great white whale", Moby Dick, which bit off much of his left leg. Now he is out for revenge.
What can we say we know about him? His crew say he never sleeps, only tosses in bed. None of the crew knows where he got it, but they all know how he lost his leg. During the course of this long, painful journey Ahab came to fix all his hatred on the White Whale.
Still frequently assigned reading in school, " Moby-Dick " is a polarizing novel for many reasons: Its huge vocabulary, usually requiring at least a few trips to your dictionary; its obsession with 19th-century whaling life, technology, and jargon; the variety of literary techniques used by Melville; and its thematic complexity. Another reason the book intimidates, of course, is the cast of characters, which includes the dozens of crew members of the Pequod, many of whom have a role in the plot and symbolic significance. Melville actually worked on whaling ships in his youth, and his depictions of life on board the Pequod and the men who worked under Ahab have the ring of complex truth.