'Call me Ishmael.' This opening line has confronted many a wary student first opening Moby-Dick. This thesis also confronts this line, by way of the enigma that is the narrator of the novel. Critics have long noted the fragmented nature of Moby-Dick, especially its oddly varying points of view. The book opens with a homodiegetic narrator telling a sea adventure tale, but by the end is dominated by a heterodiegetic narrator telling the story of Ahab's tragedy. Using classic Freudian psychology and some Lacanian theory, this thesis makes a case for the complexity and importance of Ishmael in the structure and theme of the novel. Dividing the book into separate narratives representing Ishmael's ego, super-ego, and id, this thesis argues that Ishmael develops from a naive, green sailor into an experienced whaleman with a healthier coherent personality. It is in the telling of the story that he is finally able to manifest this healthier personality.
Thesis (M.A.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2002
Table of Contents
General introduction -- Ishmael and the ego: his hand against every man -- Ishmael and the super-ego: an apology for the encyclopedic narrative -- Ishmael, Ahab and the Id part one: the Id's power over Ishmael -- Ishmael, Ahab and the Id part two: desire, seduction and awareness -- Conclusion.
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