Driving Off the Spleen: Moby-Dick and Healing from Melancholy Reverie

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Abstract

In this essay, I read Moby-Dick as an allegorical description of the process of Ishmael's healing from melancholy. Ishmael's inane reveries at the beginning of the story evolve into a productive and self-creative narrative power. His initial melancholy reverie is represented in the novel as the narcissistic tendency of the subject to withdraw into oneself and sink into its own interiority, as well as the tendency to believe in a sentimental universal brotherhood. Ishmael manages to get free of his sterile daydreaming and regain contact with reality through a close experience of mortality and the confrontation with the power and complexity of writing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-36
Number of pages15
JournalLeviathan
Volume19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Daydreaming
  • Melancholy
  • Melville, Herman
  • Moby-Dick
  • Narcissism
  • Reverie
  • Sentimentalism
  • Symbolism

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