Tag Archives: Herman Melville

On Democracy of Digression: Chapter 30 of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick

This essay focuses on chapter 30 of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, one of the novel’s shortest chapters. It contrasts bigness, destiny and Captain Ahab’s authoritarian abuse of power with smallness, free will, and digression, the democratic virtues portrayed in Moby-Dick mostly through their absence but also, in chapter 30, by their presence in the form of a pipe that Captain Ahab smokes on deck and is then compelled to toss overboard so that The Pequod might complete is star-crossed and disastrously foreshadowed voyage.

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