Moby Dick or The Whale by Herman Melville tells the adventure of Ishmael and his voyage on the ship the Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. But Captain Ahab has an obsessive goal to kill the Whale because of a previous encounter with the whale that cause Captain Ahab to lose his foot. Some of the topics in this story are the battle Good and Evil, the dangers that come with monomania and obsession. The belief in God’s existence, the limits of knowledge and relying on fate are all topics in this story. Also revenge is very destructive and good can never come out of it. These topics are mostly seen in Captain Ahab with especially his obsession with revenge that ultimately leads to his downfall. This essay will explain how revenge affects Captain Ahab and Revenge as an American Identity. This essay will show that revenge feels right but only brings destruction; Justice feels wrong at times but in the end only builds relationships.
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Revenge does not listen to reason because your mind is focused only on the task of hand. The mind is no longer open minded because revenge encompasses the whole body. Captain Ahab says “Come and see if ye can swerve me. Ye cannot swerve me, else ye swerve yourselves! The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run.”(Melville,172). Captain Ahab’s mind is already set he will not take no for an answer and believes this is the correct life path he cannot be talked to or coerced off his path. He believes that his path of revenge is fate and cannot be changed even if he wanted to. When people are obsessed with revenge are not open to any guidance they believe they are correct5 in all ways because revenge removes justice therefore it removes choices from the individual. “Revenge often invokes taking you with me. If the character snaps out of it, it can lead to Was it really worth it? And My God what have I done?”(Revenge before reason 1). When you are open to guidance you can usually see that revenge is not the correct option instead of being one minded and stubborn. You cannot think clearly and rationally if you are obsessed with revenge. Throughout the South during the Civil Rights movement people were clouded with prejudice. People did not use proper judgment in living back then, because of past occurrences and if their minds weren’t clouded they would have done help to eliminate racism. Reasons can only be seen in a mind open but if mind is clouded and we are not able to see sense revenge, prejudice and hate will continue to exist.
Revenge never leads to good it only leads to suffering. The avenger believes that he is benefiting himself and his actions will make him feel better but it only leads to more hurt for both parties involved. As The Pequod is destroyed by The Whale Captain Ahab utters “Towards thee I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breathe at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common poo!, and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!”(Melville, 576). Captain Ahab already knows he is dying but still has an obsession to take the Whale with him to the death. People think revenge will save them, but it only hurts them in the end because of bad choices. “An Eye for an Eye Will Make the Whole World Blind”(Ganhdi). The nature of revenge keeps us from seeing ourselves being hurt in the process. “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”(Lammott). The American Justice System survives on non-biasness dealing with crimes and if we judge others for acts they committed and are biased it will prompt us to look for revenge then riots began to form and people taking law into their own hands.
Feelings of revenge are hard to get rid of because revenge is human nature. “The desire for revenge isn’t a disease that afflicts a few unfortunate people; rather it’s a universal trait of human nature, crafted by natural selection, that exists today because it helped our ancestors adapt to their environment.”( The Forgiveness Instinct 1). Crew members on the Pequod pleaded with Ahab to stop his vain expedition but he refused. He says
” Doesn’t the devil live forever; who ever heard that the devil was dead? Did you ever see any parson a wearing mourning for the devil? And if the devil has a latch-key to get into the admiral’s cabin, don’t you suppose he can crawl into a port-hole?” If revenge is continuing to be nursed than it will continue to live like a parasite.
Once feelings of revenge are brought on they move like a runaway train and will not stop until everything is destroyed with itself. “I tell you that revenge never turns back and never stops. I tell you that it is always moving forward.”(Dickens 3) As humans we believe that we have control over aspects in our life but revenge can be weeded in early stages but after time it can be very hard to forgive other. Dealing with foreign affairs the United States takes caution against other countries; government and military officials have many conferences and meetings before the country goes to war. Most of the time revenge is brought on from unpreparedness. Revenge is primitive it takes very little thinking unlike it is a knee jerk response while justice takes meditation thinking and guidance.
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Revenge gives control while justice keeps control. As humans would we are able to control our emotions but in Moby Dick the whale showed more composure than Captain Ahab “for there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men” (Melville, 87). An animal with no common sense will still have better actions than a human with common sense. Humans claim they have control on their feelings but still have commit act of revenge on others. Self-control is â€•the ability to control or override one’s thoughts, emotions, urges, and behaviorâ€- for a desired outcome or goal (Damiani 7). In self- control we overlook our urges and look for the best option instead of the first option. Justice takes self-control we are able to look over our urges, revenge is an urge. If we act on our urges all the time without using common sense we are belittling ourselves to animals. As humans we have been given the ability to rationalize our actions before we perform them but revengeful acts are not rationalized because if they were humans would see the effects it haves on themselves and others. United States courts are kept in control and are well organized instead of wayward. For justice to continue to reign people must be in control of their urges and emotions so there could be fair trials and un-biased feelings dealing with cases. Revenge threatens control because there is no fairness. Countries that used “an eye for an eye a tooth for tooth laws” do not continue to exist because there was no control.
In conclusion there is nothing fair about revenge it affects us in all aspects of life. It brings us down to the form of animals we lose control over our selves. It clouds judgment, it leads to suffering, and it is hard to stop the feelings. America’s Justice System attempts to seek justice in a calm controlled manner that takes biases and prejudice out of the equation to get a fair trial. Seeking justice is a behavior that is learned but revenge is an urge brought on by human nature that encompasses our whole self. Revenge keeps us from ever having feeling of forgiveness and never helps us to build or repair relationships. But justice gives us a building block to repair torn relationships and sometimes give closure to families or people that have been affected. Revenge helps us to move on from past issues, but revenge continues to makes us dwell on them. Justice humanizes and gives respect to each party, but revenge dehumanizes and causes us to be robots that respond to any stimuli.
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