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Cannibalism in Moby Dick

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Edson Montenegro

on 19 May 2014

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Transcript of Cannibalism in Moby Dick

2
reasons
Brigitte Batté, Edson Montenegro, Pieter Keushkerian
Cannibalism

in Moby Dick

“the individual must somehow leave the bonds of his species in order to touch the forbidden nourishment.” (85)
-Catalin Avramescu’s
An Intellectual History of Cannibalism
1 2
forbidden nourishment
“The first references to the fantastic dog-headed peoples living in Asia date from the pre-Socratic period… Marco Polo discovers, on an island, anthropophagi with dog’s heads. Columbus is the first to mention the presence of maneaters in the New World, whom he claims have dog’s heads-an ...” (86)
dog-headed peoples
“Among the exotic race of moral monsters, Devil worshipers occupy a place apart. In Christian iconography, the Devil was long the principal devourer of humans . . . Alongside the demons, the worshipers of the Devil also take part in this monstrous feast.” (87)
"Devil worshipers"
“Melville was
clearly familiar
with the song"
-Geoffrey Sandborn's
The Sign of a
Cannibal
He sent for all his guards with knives.
And put an end to all their lives,
The fifty chiefs and fifty wives,
The King of the Cannibal Islands.
Protestant
vs.
Protestant
ism
race
religion
sexuality
Melville uses the trope of cannibalism within Moby Dick as a way to critique American society's tendency to marginalize and be prejudiced towards those who do not follow the traditional Protestant norm.
literal
cannibalism
race
“I was now as much afraid of him as if it was the devil himself who had thus broke into my room at the dead of night...It was now quite plain that he must be some abominable savage or other… A peddler of heads too - perhaps his brothers. He might take a fancy to mine-heavens look at the tomahawk.” (27-28)
peddler
of
heads
sexuality
“We had lain thus in bed, chatting and napping at short intervals, and Queequeg now and then affectionately throwing his brown tattooed legs over mine, and then drawing them back; so entirely sociable and free and easy were we.” (65)
free
and
easy
were
we
religion
“'He must show that he’s converted. Son of darkness,” he added… ‘art though at present in communion with any Christian church'...”

“I mean, sir, the same ancient Catholic Church to which you and I, and Captain Peleg there, and Queequeg here, and all of us, and every mother’s son and soul of us belong...we all belong to that” (79)
son
of
darkness
figurative
cannibalism
“She was a thing of trophies. A cannibal of a craft, tricking herself forth in the chased bones of her enemies. All round, her unpanelled, open bulwarks were garnished like one continuous jaw, with the long sharp teeth of a sperm whale” (61)
cannibal
of a craft
“Ahab must of course been most anxious to protect himself. That protection could only consist in his own brain heart and hand, backed by a heedful, closely calculating attention to every minute atmospheric influence which it was possible for his crew to be subjected to.” (191)
anxious to
protect
himself
“Your woraciosness, fellow-critters, I don't- blame ye so much for; dat is natur, and can’t be helped; but to gobern dat wicked natur, dat is de pint... Massa Stubb...no use a-preaching to such dam g’uttons as you call em” (241)

Queequeg
in his
coffin
“So with poor Queequeg, who, as a harpooner, must not only face all the rage of the living whale, but-as we have elsewhere seen-mount his dead back in a rolling sea; and finally descend into the gloom of the hold, and bitterly sweating all day in that subterraneous confinement, resolutely manhandle the clumsiest casks and see to their stowage" (425)
“Buoyed by that coffin, for almost one whole day and night, I floated on a soft and dirgelike main. The unharming sharks, they glided by as if with padlocks on their mouths; the savage sea-hawks sailed with sheathed beaks. On the second day, a sail drew near, nearer, and picked me up at last. It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.” (Epilogue)
"Cannibals? Who is not a cannibal?"
-Herman Melville

La Radeau de la Meduse
that
coffin
Full transcript