Moby Dick: What Goes Around Comes Around

The Town-Ho’s Story is a very enticing chapter of Moby-Dick, or the Whale. Compared to many of the other chapters I have read so far, the storyline in The Town-Ho’s Story has been clear and to the point, yet mysterious at the same time. The themes fate and vengeance put themselves on clear display in this chapter, as Ishmael descriptively tells the Town-Ho’s story. There is similarity between Steelkit and Radney’s rivalry, and Ahab’s vendetta against Moby-Dick.

Ahab is always trying to escape his own fate and the wrath of God. Ahab is completely possessed by the hatred and need for revenge he feels inside of him. “God help thee, old man, thy thoughts have created a creature in thee… a vulture feeds upon that heart forever.” (Chapter 44) Neither Steelkit nor Radney can get over himself, swallow his pride, or forgive one another. Radney felt the need to get Steelkit back for talking about him instead of just letting it go. Steelkit knew he did not deserve the harsh orders, but he also did not apologize for what he had said. Over a simple task of sweeping the deck, murder became a possibility! How ridiculous is that? Their simple rivalry ended up tearing apart the crew of the Town-Ho, leading to violence and betrayal. Steelkit felt the need to take revenge upon Radney for hitting him with the hammer and the whip. However, in both Ahab’s and Steelkit’s situations, Moby-Dick prevails himself as the inevitable fate human beings cannot escape. This can be viewed as God’s will being done, or God’s wrath being poured out.

Melville definitely intentionally made a biblical connection with the Town-Ho’s story. Quotes from the chapter like, “In the morning of the third day from that in which he had been betrayed,” and “Steelkit here hissed out something, inaudible to all but the captain,” reinforces the biblical connection and the theory of Moby-Dick representing God’s wrath. The moral of the story, seeking revenge is not going to get you anywhere positive. Turn it over to God (He is going to get his way anyway).


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