The first chapter of Moby Dick, ‘Loomings” begins with the line “Call Me Ishmael. ” Ishmael is described to be a sailor, who seeks adventure when his soul was feeling like a “damp, drizzly November. ” He believes that at least once in every man’s life, the ocean is a forceful calling of mystery and peril. Ishmael states that water represents wonder in life, and it attracts thousands of wonderers just as Niagara Falls does where a desert does not. He tells how he only travels sea as a captain, never a passenger, because a passenger has to pay but a captain is paid.
Melville uses metaphors and similes often to describe feelings about the sea, places in which Ishmael had been, and the sea’s wonder and attraction. He also uses allusions to gods of the sea, and stresses how their worshipers found importance in the sea. In the first chapter, Ishmael, the protagonist is introduced, as well as his job as a sailor. Ishmael’s thoughts and hopes of the future are revealed. It is learned that the sea is a prominent part of Ishmael’s mind as he thinks of little else.
Philosophical views are also revealed when Ishmael talks about how everyone is a slave at one point in their life. In the fifth chapter, “Breakfast,” Ishmael cheerfully greets the landlord and then joins the rest of boarders waiting for breakfast. He notices most of the boarders are in fact whalers, who are bearded, unshorn, and shaggy. Ishmael notices how long each whaler had been ashore, based upon their skin tone. The most exceptional of tones was held by Queequeg. Ishmael says that sailors are usually at ease in their manner and self-assured, except for Ledyard and Mungo Park.
When the whalers were seated and ready to eat, Ishmael prepared for exciting stories, but to his surprise the whalers were quiet and looked almost embarrassed. Ishmael observes the actions of Queequeg, who brings his harpoon to breakfast and uses it to serve himself. Melville uses metaphors and vivid illustrations to describe the whalers Ishmael sees. He uses meticulous observations to show Ishmael’s attention to details. In this chapter, Ishmael’s interest in other whalers is observes as well as his attention to their appearances. Ishmael is especially interested in the actions of the whaler, Queequeg, who sits at the head of the table.
In naming this fact, and as well as naming to positions of other whalers, Ishmael clearly finds importance in the placement of power. In the chapter “Of the Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales, and the True Pictures of Whaling Scenes,” Ishmael talks of depictions of Sperm and Right Whales. He talks of four Sperm Whale artists; Colnett, Huggins, Frederick Cuvier, and Beale, of these Beale being the best. Of the Right Whale pictures, Scoresby’s is the best. But better than all of these, are two large French engravings by Garnery. Both of these engravings represent whale attacks.
Ishmael is surprised that the French’s engravings were the best, even with all their artistic skill; they did not have the slightest experience that the British or Americans did. In this chapter, Melville uses detailed descriptions again to depict the engravings of whales. He uses imagery words which set a tone for each depiction. Ishmael’s high sense of importance of perfection is revealed in this chapter as he describes each drawing, noting each error. Ishmael also has an interest in the engravings of whales and their accuracy. Ishmael srttI