Special Sub-Topic: Melville's Creations
|Melville, like this character from his novel "Typee," jumped ship and lived with the cannibals. |
Tommo. Tommo is the narrator of "Typee," and he jumps ship with Toby. While Melville stayed less than a month with the cannibals, the fictional Tommo stays much longer, because his injured leg keeps him incapacitated.
|A one time school teacher, this sailor reasons that idol worship is in accord with the golden rule.|
Ishmael. Ishmael is the narrator of "Moby Dick," and like its author Melville, he is something of a moral relativist. He sees both pagans and Christians as being "dreadfully cracked about the head." He is a melancholy figure who is almost suicidal, but who yet gets swept up in the quest for Moby Dick.
|"He was on the whole a clean, comely looking cannibal."|
Queequeg. This description describes a noble and heroic character who figures prominently in "Moby Dick." Queequeg twice risks his life to rescue others, and in the end even his coffin serves to rescue Ishmael.
|He "lived in the world, as the last of the Grisly bears lived in settled Missouri."|
Ahab. This quote describes the quest-driven captain in "Moby Dick." Ahab is compared to both Job, who questioned God's justice, and Jonah, who refused to obey God and fled from Him by sea.
|He is "pitiably respectable" and intends no insolence, and yet he would "prefer not."|
Bartleby. This is a description of the curious scrivener from Melville's long short story, "Bartleby the Scrivener." Bartleby is described as "incurably forlorn." He subsists solely on ginger nuts and lives permanently in the office. Yet when asked by his boss to do work, he responds simply, "I would prefer not."
|This "unblest foundling" is a great artist "wrapped in lofty schemes."|
Bannadonna. He can be found in Melville's short story "The Bell Tower." Bannadonna, consumed by pride, continues to build the bell tower even when he is warned about the bell's weight. He is called the "cynic solitaire."
|He is cleanly cut as a Greek medallion and has silken jet curls and a foreign accent. |
John Claggart. Claggart is the villain of "Billy Budd, The Sailor." He is something of a Judas figure in the novel, intentionally betraying Billy Budd and delivering him over to his executioner.
|He is blonde, with a rosy complexion, and looks like a statue of young Adam before the fall.|
Billy Budd. Billy Budd is the naive victim/hero of the novel that bares his name. He is something of a Christ figure, and he, like Christ, is sacrificed for the sake of expediency: that is, he is executed so that a mutiny can be quelled, even though the Captain does not believe in his guilt. (As the high priest said of Christ, "It is expedient that one man should die for the nation.")
|This small, rude faced man in wide trousers asks, "From its skeleton, can you tell it is a white man's?"|
Babo. Babo is a shrewd, cautions, and cruel character who attacks Benito in Melville's short story "Benito Cereno."
|His heart is broken by his friend's death, and he is like one flayed alive; there is no spot where he can be touched without smarting. He constantly chews on his fingernails, and his voice has degenerated to a mere husky whisper. |
Benito Cereno. This character may be found in the short story that bares his name. He is wealthy and rather young, yet he has already been initiated into the horrors of this world, which has left his spirit broken. He is very unlike Melville's Amasa Delano, to whom he is contrasted.
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