Melville's "Universal Cannibalism of the Sea"
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: Melville's "Universal Cannibalism of the Sea"
: Paweł Jędrzejko
Abstract : Melville's "Universal Cannibalism of the Sea"
Insult and injury, in order to take place at all, require the existence of both agens and patiens of each respective act. The Whale, given a human name and thus personified, lends sense to the Melvillean metaphor, even though, at a larger scale, Stubb's supper - a wishful act of caMibalistic incorporation of the enemy's powers - becomes a point of departure for philosophical questioning of sense sensu largo.
This narcissistic feast, soon followed by the final tragedy of the Pequod, becomes a symbol of a victorious, though insignificant, battle in a war that cannot be won. Water, like the other three elements , has never "yielded" to human will. Yet when water assumes the form of the ocean - unlike earth, air, or fire - it leaves no doubt in this respect. Everyday, local reality lures landsmen into the belief that they have managed to tame fire (which they think they have confined to their fireplaces and stoves), that the wind is at their service (turning windmills and propelling ships), and that the earth, in accordance with the Biblical commandment, has already been subdued. The sea, however, ceaselessly and openly, manifests its nature as an element
stronger than man: it is an overwhelming fire, an undying hurricane, and a permanent earthquake. And even though it does sometimes behave in a "civilized" fashion and is apparently as tame as flames in a flfeplace, yielding its riches up to man as readily as the earth does - it never allows its narcissistic "conqueror" to forget that it indeed is an "inhuman" element.
: Herman Melville, existentialism, cannibalism, metaphors of cannibalism, the Bible, elements, theodicy, ethics, anti-Transcendentalism, American Renaissance, Moby-Dick
||Department of American and Canadian Studies of the Institute of English Cultures and Literatures, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland|
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