Moby Dick Chapter 36 The Quarter Deck - Enter Ahab Then All
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2701/270 ... m#2HCH0036
Quite a long chapter, with high drama and purpose, introducing the quest against that creature of "outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice", Moby Dick.
With "intense bigotry of purpose in his aspect", Ahab calls all the crew aft. The doubloon Ahab nails to the mast as prize for Moby Dick may be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/7283167@N03/3920396642/
Ahab nails the ounce of Quito gold to the mast. At the website where I got the picture above, a smaller prize is offered for answers to the following questions, which I imagine the infallible Google could readily supply to those with adequate Google-fu.
No prizes here except eternal glory.
Receiving the top-maul from Starbuck, he advanced towards the main-mast with the hammer uplifted in one hand, exhibiting the gold with the other, and with a high raised voice exclaiming: "Whosoever of ye raises me a white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw; whosoever of ye raises me that white-headed whale, with three holes punctured in his starboard fluke—look ye, whosoever of ye raises me that same white whale, he shall have this gold ounce, my boys!"
"Huzza! huzza!" cried the seamen, as with swinging tarpaulins they hailed the act of nailing the gold to the mast.
"It's a white whale, I say," resumed Ahab, as he threw down the topmaul: "a white whale. Skin your eyes for him, men; look sharp for white water; if ye see but a bubble, sing out."
And then, the first mention in the book of the eponym, the infamous, the terrible dread
And now the descriptions start thick and fast from the harpooneers
"And he have one, two, three—oh! good many iron in him hide, too, Captain," cried Queequeg disjointedly, "all twiske-tee be-twisk, like him—him—" faltering hard for a word, and screwing his hand round and round as though uncorking a bottle—"like him—him—"
"Corkscrew!" cried Ahab, "aye, Queequeg, the harpoons lie all twisted and wrenched in him; aye, Daggoo, his spout is a big one, like a whole shock of wheat, and white as a pile of our Nantucket wool after the great annual sheep-shearing; aye, Tashtego, and he fan-tails like a split jib in a squall. Death and devils! men, it is Moby Dick ye have seen—Moby Dick—Moby Dick!"
And the psychological portrait of what Melville acutely diagnoses as monomania
with a terrific, loud, animal sob, like that of a heart-stricken moose; "Aye, aye! it was that accursed white whale that razeed me; made a poor pegging lubber of me for ever and a day!" Then tossing both arms, with measureless imprecations he shouted out: "Aye, aye! and I'll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition's flames before I give him up. And this is what ye have shipped for, men! to chase that white whale on both sides of land, and over all sides of earth, till he spouts black blood and rolls fin out. What say ye, men, will ye splice hands on it, now? I think ye do look brave."
But Starbuck poops the party
Such practical concerns are as naught to the driven captain, who responds
Realizing he is on a ship of fools
And then the strange ritual of the full pewter before the crossed lances, as Ahab forces the solemn oath,
suggests this great, theatrical, melodramatic scene is somewhat reminiscent, (I would say as tragic farce), of Jacques-Louis David's painting Oath of the Horatii: