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Moby Dick: Allegory of the First Order

Why Howard Butcher, you old subversive, you, teaching Moby Dick or, The Whale  a scriptural allegory that makes C.S. Lewis and John Bunyan read like Joel Osteen – to our impressionable youth.  Fortunately for you, the story is so compelling and the characters so riveting and well-drawn, you will get away with it year after year.

Melville puts the reader in a biblical frame of mind straight off, before he even gets to the story, with his bizarre Extracts (Supplied by a Sub-Sub- Librarian) citing from the books of Genesis, Job, Jonah, Psalms, and Isaiah, among other quotes; which include lines from Pilgrim’s Progress and Paradise Lost.  To keep us in a King James Bible mood, characters such as the ship owners Bildad and Peleg, first mate Starbuck, and it is presumed, Ahab himself, are Quakers all, keeping in their dialogue the formal “thee and thou” for which that sect was famous.

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