The Major Role of the Theme of Free Will Versus Fate in Moby Dick, a Novel by Herman Melville


The theme of free choice versus fate plays a large function in Moby Cock. One’s fate can be described as the path of occasions in their life that unfolds and can not be changed. Nevertheless, in Moby Penis, completion result of the characters can be finest referred to as being chosen by the choices that they made while exercising their free will. The characters are in control of themselves and the occasions that unfold are merely outcomes of their decisions in addition to the choices of those around them. As illustrated in Moby Dick, the events that unfold in one’s life are an outcome of themselves and those around them exercising free will and the choices that are made while doing so.

Captain Ahab in Moby Cock

In Moby Dick, Captain Ahab is portrayed as having one objective in mind– eliminating Moby Penis and while exercising his free will, he chooses that he needs to locate the white whale. He uses being the captain of a whaling ship aiming to make a profit as a front for himself to track down the whale that took his leg from him. He is mainly unconcerned with his duties as captain of a whaling ship and hunting whales to make a profit as he is really only concerned with tracking down Moby Penis. This objective of discovering Moby Penis directly impacts everybody on board the Pequod as they were unsure of what they were getting themselves into when they chose to go aboard. The very first time that Ahab formally attends to the crew, he says “it was Moby Dick that dismasted me; Moby Penis that brought me to this dead stump that I base on now. [.] it was that accursed white whale that razeed me; made a bad pegging lubber of me for ever and a day! […] I’ll chase him round Excellent Hope, and round the horn […] prior to I offer him up” (Melville, Moby Penis, 144). Ahab takes his injury to Moby Penis personally and thinks it to be an indication that it’s his fate to discover and eliminate the whale. Though he believes that it is his fate, he exercises his free will and chooses that he will do anything in his power to eliminate the white whale, no matter what it cost him or those around him.

In contrast to Ahab, the Captain of the Samuel Enderby mentions “Didn’t want to attempt to; ain’t one limb enough? What should I do without this other arm? And I’m believing Moby Cock does not bite even he swallows” (Melville 394). Like Ahab, the other ship captain likewise lost a limb to Moby Dick. Despite the fact that he also lost a limb, the other captain is doing his finest to prevent the white whale as he does not want to go through a comparable experience once again. By saying that the whale does not bite however rather swallows, he is alluding to the concept that the whale attack was not individual and was rather simply part of the nature of the whale. He doesn’t believe in finding the whale and certainly does not think that eliminating the whale becomes part of his fate. On the other hand, Ahab is totally dedicated to eliminating Moby Cock even at the expense of his own life and the lives of the team. He demonstrates this when he exclaims “Death to Moby Dick! God hunt all of us, if we do not hunt Moby Dick to his death!” (Melville 148). Ahab exercises his free will to decide to hunt Moby Dick no matter the costs. This choice sets up the chain of occasions that ultimately leads to everybody on the Pequod passing away besides Ishmael.

Ishmael and Queequeg in Moby Dick

Similar to Ahab, Ishmael and Queequeg both exercise their free will and make choices throughout the story that directly affect the events that unfold in their lives. The decision to sign on to the Pequod was made by both of them through free choice. Ishmael and Queequeg are approached by a complete stranger who asks if that’s their ship. Ishmael reacts with “‘Yes,’ […] ‘we have actually simply signed the short articles'” (Melville 82). The complete stranger then goes on to state “‘Anything down there about your souls?'” (Melville 82). This complete stranger is mentioning the idea that by signing onto the Pequod, they are doing more than they at first thought. By pointing out that they are signing down their souls, he is alluding to the idea that their lives will now be intertwined with Ahab and the Pequod. Had Ishmael and Queequeg not decided to not go onto a whaling vessel, or had they decided to sign up with a various vessel, the events that would unfold and ultimately cause Queequeg’s death would not have occurred.

Ishmael and Queequeg collectively make choices that have significant impacts on the both of them. Beginning in the very start of the story, Ishmael and Queequeg share a very tight bond. This bond is best shown when Ishmael states “I seemed distinctly to view that my own uniqueness was now merged in a joint-stock business of 2: that my free choice had received a mortal wound; and that another’s error or bad luck may plunge innocent me into unmerited disaster and death” (Melville 287). Ishmael is referring to how he is tied to Queequeg as Queequeg is on the whales drifting body trying to attach a hook. Since he is tied to Queequeg, he would also be taken down into the water were Queequeg to fall in. This slips up on either end dangerous for both of them. Though it seems as though fate would take control of at this moment because they are both at the mercy of each other as well as external forces such as the water and possible sharks, they have both decided to be in this position together. Since they have decided to interact through their own free choice and they understand exactly the situation that they are in, the occasions that unfold are not left approximately chance, so it can not be considered fate.

Starbuck in Moby Penis

Comparable to how both Ishmael and Queequeg make decisions that impact the occasions that unfold, Starbuck exercises his free will to make choices that have a potential to entirely modify the course of his life. Starbuck is able to understand the scenario that he remains in much better than the other characters. He knows what the outcome of being on Ahab’s ship may be as he specifies “My soul is more than matched; she’s overmanned; and by a madman! Insufferable sting, that peace of mind ought to ground arms on such a field! However he drilled deep down and blasted all my reason out of me! I believe I see his impious end; however feel that I should help him to it” (Melville 150). Starbuck understands that Ahab is a madman and that his soul comes from him as long as he is on the ship. He thinks that completion of this journey will not turn out well for anybody, yet he doesn’t feel the need to act at this moment. Starbuck feels as though Ahab has actually taken the thinking that he had out of him as he knows what the result of this journey might effectively be. He feels as though he ought to assist Ahab in his journey to find Moby Cock although he knows that Ahab is a madman. He exercises his free will be deciding to accompany Ahab on the journey.

Starbuck eventually reaches a point where he needs to make a decision relating to eliminating Ahab or not. As the story progresses, Starbuck continues to be anxious about Ahab and the journey that he is leading the crew on. This agitation reaches its peak when Starbuck is close to eliminating Ahab. Towards the end of story, Starbuck is holding a musket near Ahab while he sleeps and says “However shall this crazed old male be tamely suffered to drag a whole ship’s company down to doom with him? […] And would I be a murderer, then if’– and slowly, stealthily, and half sideways looking, he placed the loaded musket’s end against the door […] Starbuck seemed battling with an angel; but turning from the door, he positioned the death-tube in its rack, and left the place” (Melville 455-456). Starbuck understands that Ahab and his insanity will end up dragging the ship down with him, so by eliminating him, he would prevent that result. Had Starbuck went on and eliminated Ahab, the Pequod would have not chased Moby Cock and would probably not have sunk, therefore saving the lives of the team. As illustrated when Melville writes that it appeared as if Starbuck was wrestling with an angel, Starbuck struggled to make the decision. In the end, he exercised his free choice and decided to not eliminate Ahab. This choice is what sets the course for completion of the story. The choice to let Ahab live is Starbuck choosing to accompany Ahab although he knows the result will more than likely lead to his death.


It might be argued that the events that unfold in Moby Dick and more particularly when the Pequod sinks is a direct outcome of fate. It might seem as though the ship was fated to be doomed from the really starting and there wasn’t anything that anyone could do about it. This idea is finest illustrated in the very beginning of the unique when Ishmael states “Though I can not tell you why it was precisely that those impresario, the Fates, put me down for this shoddy part of the whaling voyage […] different disguise, caused me to go about carrying out the part that I did […] chief among these intentions was the overwhelming concept of the excellent whale himself” (Melville 5). Ishmael states that it was the fates that put him on the fateful voyage to look for Moby Cock yet he likewise mentions that it was his desire to get more information about the whale that put him in the role that he played. He was not pushed into being a crew member on the Pequod, however rather he exercised his free will and chose to do that. Like Ishmael, both Queequeg and Starbuck, along with the remainder of the team members, chose to sign up with the Pequod’s team. Though it was Ahab’s decisions that ended up bringing about the eventful end to the Pequod, the team members, specifically Starbuck, might have overthrown and even killed Ahab. This would have produced an end to the Moby Penis chase.


The conclusion of the Pequod’s journey and the end results for the members of the team is a result of choices that they made through exercising their free choice instead of an outcome of fate. It would be inaccurate to mention the culmination of the Pequod and Pequod’s crew’s journey was a result of a chain of occasions that could not be altered. The team members were aware of Ahab’s madness and the scenario he was getting them all into, yet they never ever did anything about it even though they had numerous chances to. Instead of trying to change the path that they were on, the crew members picked to be complacent and follow Ahab’s orders. This is what resulted in the sinking of the Pequod and the deaths of all the team members, besides Ishmael.