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What did Melville achieve with the novel, 'Moby Dick'?

An analysis of the use of language, content and authorial intent in Herman Melville's American novel, 'Moby Dick'.

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When Melville was writing 'Moby Dick' it is clear his thoughts were not solely upon composing an epic tale of the adventures of whaling. The subject was indeed dear to him, and yet it was of questionable interest to the reading public. For Melville, the subject, however broad and unexplored, was the mere starting point for a deep and thorough examination into language and its ability to incorporate democratic thought and expression.

Whaling as a subject opened up new possibilities of adding words to the vocabulary inherited from Europe. Melville was searching for a purity and freshness in American writing that would be unfettered by the conventions of mimesis which had gone before. With the New World establishing its own political code and way of life, it is natural that the writers of the time were seeking to begin their existence in a new country with an attempt to create their own literary identity.

Melville was searching for a space for the literature of America in its own right, and the see ...

Solution Summary

Herman Melville aims to challenge the boundaries of conventional literature to embody ideas which could be considered unique to American literature. He explores the possibility of re-evaluating language, theme and political motivation through his novel, 'Moby Dick'.

This solution may be helpful to students conducting a study of Herman Melville's Moby Dick as part of an American Literature course.

9 paragraphs - 684 words.