It is rather possible that nothing runs deeper through the veins of Herman Melville than his ridicule for anything transcendental. Melville’s belittling of the whole transcendentalist movement is far from sparsely demonstrated throughout the pages of Moby-Dick, in which he tactically points out the intrinsic presence of evil, the asperity of nature and the wrath of the almighty God. To Melville, transcendentalists became a “guild of self-impostors, with a preposterous rabble of Muggletonian Scots and Yankees, whose repellent brogue still the more bestreaks the stripedness of their Greek or German Neoplatonic originals” (“Herman Melville” 2350).
Transcendentalists exceeded rejecting the doleful possibilities of human error and suffering, and it is this oblivious selflessness of transcendentalism in its looser grasps which prompted Melville’s scorn. Within the Emersonian school of idea lies the belief that” [the] mess up or the blank that we see when we look at nature, is in our own eye” (Emerson et al.
81) and that “the evils of the world are such only to the wicked eye” (Emerson et al. 174). Melville, however, thinks that on our planet lies a fundamental evil, going as far as to say, “A completely good being … would see no evil.– But what did Christ see?– He saw what made him weep” (Thompson 2350), mentioning that not only does wicked exist, but it exists within Christ, the ultimate sign of good. Moby Dick, the white whale itself, is the prosopopeia of wicked and malevolence in deep space. All that a lot of maddens and tortures; all that stimulates the lees of things; all reality with malice in it; all that fractures the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and idea; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made almost assailable in Moby Penis.
(Melville 154) Moby Penis is likewise a depiction of Leviathan, Job’s whale created by God as a malicious symbol of God; Ahab “… sees in Him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it” (Melville 138), and if God is a representation of the spirit of the world, then within the world needs to exist “an inscrutable malice.” Transcendentalists made nature out to be this wondrous, amazing development of God which– viewing as he believed God to be more wicked than excellent– is an idea Melville blatantly turns down as a fallacy.
Where Emerson states, “… Nature satisfies by its loveliness, and without any mixture of corporeal advantage” (Emerson et al. 107), Melville states, … all other earthly shades– every majestic or beautiful emblazoning– the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods; yea, and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of girls; all these are however the subtle deceits, not in fact intrinsic in compounds, however laid on from without; so that all deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, whose allurements cover absolutely nothing but the charnel-house within.
(Melville 164) When sent out to sea, the Pequod and its team were dealt with by the nature of which Melville speaks– a nature that, at times, appears to “gild the surface area of the water with magic, and triggers even the cautious hunter to have a land-like sensation towards the sea” (“Herman Melville” 2351), however is actually veils behind which God hides and continuously threatens to release his ambiguous animosity. It is the whale, an item of God and nature, that has enjoyed the leg of Ahab, that lashes out with the force of a thousand men.
It is the beguiling call of nature that lulls the missing minded youth into an opium-like reverie by the mixing cadence of waves with ideas until he loses his identity and takes it upon himself to take the ocean at his feet for the deep, blue bottom that pervades mankind (Melville 134-135); calms are crossed by storms, a storm for every calm. Moreover, Melville mocks the transcendentalists for their blindness to the rest of the world. The transcendentalists saw only the world through the “measurements of a tough window in Concord” (“Herman Melville” 2394).
Melville might portray the real qualities of nature in a more meticulous way, for he had left his home in New England and cruised worldwide. When Emerson claimed that the poet “disposes extremely quickly of the most disagreeable realities,” it triggered Melville to react, “So it would appear. In this sense, Mr. E is a fantastic poet” (Thompson 443). Though a seemingly of an apparently various nature, enthusiasms, desires, cravings, and senses of the flesh are a part of nature however: they are instincts, a natural part behind the drive of man. “…
[All] deep, earnest thinking [that] is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open self-reliance of her sea; while the wildest winds of paradise and earth conspire to cast her upon the slavish coast” (Melville 95). It is this natural drive that keeps male from falling under the spiritual drive, this tyrannous and ruthless enslavement of this wrathful God, for “natural or carnal guys lack God in the world” (Alma 41:11). It appears as though Melville has an everlasting quarrel with God. Throughout Ahab’s mission for the white whale, Melville has actually shown his own individual independence from the authoritarianism of Christian dogma.
It appears that religious conventionalism was Melville’s preferred target for satire, however mostly due to the fact that he saw himself in competitors with it. His own genius was deeply religious and the Bible seemed to serve the deepest function in Moby-Dick. Melville was caught in a vicious fight that he created and might not win. He started by caring God, then moved to hating God, progressed into a complete detachment from God– feeling neither love nor hate. He grew to hate his detachment and chose that God might indeed be lovable, therefore the vicious circle repeats (Thompson 148-149).
Thompson concludes, “The underlying theme in Moby-Dick associates the concepts that– God in his unlimited malice asserts a sovereign tyranny over male and that a lot of males are seduced into the incorrect view that this divine tyranny is good-hearted and therefore acceptable” (242 ). Melville agreed with the transcendentalists that the spirit is substance, however he started to diverge from the transcendental conclusion that its impact on guy was kindhearted. Moby-Dick informs not only the story of the endeavors of the Pequod and its crew, but likewise of Melville himself.
It catches all of Melville’s individual contempt toward the entire transcendentalist movement, and shows his sensible recognition of evil through the meaning of the whale, his battle with faith through the use of ontological heroics, and his less-than-altruistic ideas of nature through making use of sheer logic. It is the ideal emblem for his appreciation for rationalism and respect for realism. “Oh, the uncommon old Whale, mid storm and windstorm In his ocean house will be A giant in might, where may is right, And King of the Boundless sea.” WHALE TUNE Works Cited.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, Atkinson Brojoks, Edward Waldo Emerson. The Important Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York City: Random House Digital, Inc., 2000. Print. “Herman Melville.” World Literature Criticism. 1st ed. 1992. Print. Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. Mineola: Dover Publications, Inc., 2003. Print. Myerson, Joel, Sandra Harbert Petrulionis, and Laura Dassow Walls. The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism. New York City: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print. The King James Bible. Susan Jones. New York City: Doubleday, 1985. Print. Thompson, Lawrence. Melville’s Quarrel With God. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952. Print.