Herman Melville

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The narrator of the novel, and its protagonist, Ishmael is a relatively poor young man in New York City at the beginning of the narrative. On a whim, Ishmael decides to take up a job… read analysis of Ishmael


A harpooneer from the Pacific island of Kokovoko, Queequeg left his home and royal position on his Island at a young age to try his luck on whale-ships in the United States. Queequeg is a… read analysis of Queequeg


The “monomaniacal” captain of the Pequod, Ahab is a brooding, proud, solitary figure, deathly angry that the monster Moby Dick has eaten his leg. Ahab vows revenge on the animal, even though others, like Starbuckread analysis of Ahab

Moby Dick

The novel’s antagonist, Moby Dick is a white whale, wild and lethal, hunted by many and killed by none. No one in the novel, not even Ahab, succeeds in catching the whale, and… read analysis of Moby Dick


Ahab’s first mate, Starbuck is loyal, practical, ethical, and cautious, perhaps overly so. He does not want Ahab to attack Moby Dick, and recognized both the physical and moral danger of Ahab’s obsession, but… read analysis of Starbuck
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Snuck aboard the Pequod by Ahab, Fedallah, or “the Parsee,” is a man of indeterminate Asian origin, who serves as Ahab’s harpooneer. Fedallah is believed by some on the ship, including Stubb and Flaskread analysis of Fedallah


A gifted sailor from the area of the United States around Lake Erie, Steelkilt leads a mutiny on the ship the Town-Ho that nearly succeeds, until it is interrupted by the presence of Moby Dickread analysis of Steelkilt


An African American boy, Pip has small jobs on the Pequod, mostly cleaning the decks, but goes mad after falling out of Stubb’s whale-boat (he had been called into rowing duty after another sailor fell… read analysis of Pip


Captain of the Rachel, Gardiner begs Ahab to help him find his son, who was lost in a whale-boat during the hunt for Moby Dick. But Ahab refuses to help Gardiner, saying he has… read analysis of Gardiner


The Pequod’s pilot, or steering-man, as it leaves the docks in Nantucket, Bulkington is praised by Ishmael at the beginning of the novel and then forgotten. To Ishmael, Bulkington is a symbol of the many… read analysis of Bulkington
Minor Characters
Father Mapple
A preacher at the Whaleman’s Chapel, in New Bedford, Father Mapple urges the sailors, through the Biblical story of Jonah and the Whale, to “do their duty,” and to obey their captains while at sea.
Ahab’s second mate, Stubb is a gifted whaler and a free spirit, often seen smoking his pipe while doing difficult tasks. Stubb thinks Ahab is mad, but decides he has no problem following Ahab’s orders to find and kill Moby Dick.
Ahab’s third mate, Flask is mostly known as a “mediocrity,” neither as cautious as Starbuck nor as gifted at whaling as Stubb.
One of the ship’s “heathen” harpooneers, Tashtego is a Native American from Martha’s Vineyard. Tashtego is the last of the Pequod’s crew to fall beneath the waves when the ship sinks.
The third of the ship’s “heathen” harpooneers, Daggoo hails from Africa, and is believed to be a “savage” by some of the crew-members.
One of the Pequod’s owners, Peleg warns Ishmael that Ahab is a strange captain and is perhaps mad.
Another of the Pequod’s owners, Bildad is known for his overt religiosity, and for his desire that Queequeg convert to Christianity before becoming a member of the Pequod’s crew.
Mrs. Hussey
One of the managers of the Try-Pots Inn in Nantucket, Mrs. Hussey helps to get Ishmael and Queequeg settled as they are en route to their sea voyage on the Pequod.
Radney, first mate of the Town-Ho and enemy to Steelkilt, opposes his mutiny, but is killed by Moby Dick during the attempted hunt.
One of the ship’s cooks, Fleece is teased by Stubb for over-cooking the whale-meat Stubb has skinned from a whale he recently caught.
Captain of the Samuel Enderby, Boomer has lost an arm to Moby Dick, just like Ahab has lost a leg. But unlike Ahab, Boomer does not hold a grudge against the whale, believing Moby Dick is only a “brute animal.”
A “prophet” who speaks to Ishmael and Queequeg before they board the Pequod, Elijah warns them of Ahab’s madness, and of a shadow-crew, led by Fedallah, whom Ahab has snuck aboard the vessel.
The Pequod’s carpenter
Greatly skilled at his craft, the Pequod’s carpenter is asked to fashion Ahab a new leg out of whale ivory, and to make a coffin for Queequeg, which is later sealed and used as the ship’s life buoy.
The ship’s blacksmith, Perth is asked, by Ahab, to manufacture a new harpoon Ahab can use to kill Moby Dick.
Another prophet on the ship the Jeroboam, Gabriel warns his captain, Mayhew, and his first mate, Macey, not to hunt Moby Dick, since that whale is the “God of the Shakers.”
Captain of the Jeroboam, Mayhew does not listen to Gabriel’s warning, and Macey, the first mate, dies as a result, knocked off the decks by Moby Dick.
First mate of the Jeroboam, and killed by Moby Dick, Macey is another of the novel’s characters to be murdered, mangled, or made to disappear by the whale.
A whaler of little skill and captain of the Virgin, Derick has a hard time catching any whales, and does not obey whaling etiquette, attempting to take some of the whales that the Pequod had been hunting.
A king on the island of Tranque. Ishmael reports that, after the events of the novel, he met with Tranquo and saw the king’s whale skeleton, which measured 72 feet in length.
Peter Coffin
The owner of the Spouter Inn, where Ishmael meets Queequeg.
Hosea Hussey
The owner of the Try Pots Inn on Nantucket.
Queequeg's god, represented in a little wooden idol.
Aunt Charity
Bildad's sister.