Discussion questions – Moby-Dick: Do we see the whale as God, as the devil or evil incarnate
Do we see the whale as God (and if so, of which religious denomination), as the devil or evil incarnate, as the unconscious or phallic self, as a disclosure of the ultimate extremes of nature, or as evidence of either intelligent design or human limitations in divine creation? What is the significance of the sea?
What are the whale’s primary and secondary qualities? Do they harmonize with each other? What is the significance of its improbable whiteness? Is it a Job’s whale (Ch. 41) or a Jonah’s whale? What is the meaning of the details of the anatomy of the whale? What is its proper biological classification? Why do whale have such unusual qualities, and why indeed do they exist at all? How does Melville relate the whale (“the monster”) to other real and mythical sea and land monsters, such as the dragons, the giant squid, the kraken, and the crooked, piercing leviathan in the sea (Isaiah)?