Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick

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 Starbuck, warn him that no “revenge” is possible against a “dumb animal.” Ahab admits that he is not just hunting Moby Dick, but “whatever lies behind” the whale, and his quest becomes a kind of metaphor for the human condition, battling for meaning and life in a world and against forces that are at once incomprehensible and unconquerable. Ahab is eventually killed by his own harpoon-line, in an attempt to harpoon Moby Dick before the whale smashes into the Pequod.

Ahab Quotes in Moby-Dick

The Moby-Dick quotes below are all either spoken by Ahab or refer to Ahab. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Moby-Dick published in 2002.
Chapter 36 Quotes

It’s a white whale, I say . . . a white whale. Skin your eyes for him, men; look sharp for white water; if ye see but a bubble, sing out.

Related Characters: Ahab (speaker), Moby Dick
Related Symbols: The White Whale
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 109 Quotes

Oh, Life! Here I am, proud as a Greek god, and yet standing debtor to this block-head for a bone to stand on. Cursed be that mortal interindebtedness which will not do away with ledgers. I would be free as air; and I’m down in the whole world’s books.

Related Characters: Ahab (speaker), The Pequod’s carpenter
Page Number: 514
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 133 Quotes

Men, this gold is mine, for I earned it; but I shall let it abide here till the White Whale is dead; and then, whosoever of ye first raises him, upon the day he shall be killed, this gold is that man’s, and if on that day I shall again raise him, then, ten times its sum shall be divided among all of ye! Away now!

Related Characters: Ahab (speaker), Moby Dick
Related Symbols: The White Whale
Page Number: 602
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Ahab Character Timeline in Moby-Dick

The timeline below shows where the character Ahab appears in Moby-Dick. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 16: The Ship
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...old sailor then asks if Ishmael is trustworthy, and tells him to look at Captain Ahab before he decides to sail on the Pequod. Ishmael is surprised, thinking that the old... (full context)
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Before Ishmael leaves, Peleg tells him that Ahab was a little “out of his head” after his leg was bitten off by a... (full context)
Chapter 19: The Prophet
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...who asks if the two know the history of the Pequod, and of its Captain Ahab, whom the man calls “Old Thunder.” When the man persists, asking if Ishmael and Queequeg... (full context)
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But the man says only that Ahab lost his leg to a whale, and under suspicious circumstances. Ishmael asks the man’s name,... (full context)
Chapter 20: All Astir
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...Ishmael closes the chapter by stating that Bildad and Peleg never allowed Ishmael to see Ahab before the ship set sail, and although this should have worried Ishmael at the time,... (full context)
Chapter 21: Going Aboard
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...above-decks with the rigger, hearing that Starbuck, the ship’s chief mate, is there, and that Ahab is still secluded in his cabin on the ship—no one has yet seen him. (full context)
Chapter 22: Merry Christmas
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...to go. Bildad and Peleg then leave the Pequod in the command of Starbuck, while Ahab remains below-deck, hidden from view. (full context)
Chapter 27: Knights and Squires
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...names Starbuck, Stubb, and Flask the three “knights” of the Pequod, under the command of Ahab, and states that each knight takes out a whaling boat, when the whale is being... (full context)
Chapter 28: Ahab
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...out into the Atlantic for several days, and still no one in the ship sees Ahab, who hides in his quarters. Ishmael wonders to himself if Elijah’s prophecies weren’t true—if Ahab... (full context)
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Ishmael reports also that Ahab stands in a sort of “pivot-hole” worn into the deck of the Pequod, where he... (full context)
Chapter 29: Enter Ahab; To Him, Stubb
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Ahab often walks the quarterdeck at night, when only the night-watch sailors are about, since he... (full context)
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Stubb, talking to himself as he walks back to sleep, says that Ahab is the strangest captain he has ever seen. Stubb also repeats what another sailor has... (full context)
Chapter 30: The Pipe
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In this very short chapter, Ahab smokes a pipe and sits on the quarterdeck, appearing, according to the narrator (who is... (full context)
Chapter 31: Queen Mab
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...Flask of a dream he had the night before—the night he was told off by Ahab. Stubb dreams that Ahab kicked him with his ivory leg, and after doing so, that... (full context)
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...like a “foolish” one. But Stubb believes it has given him some useful information about Ahab, and tells Flask that he will not fight with Ahab anymore—he will simply follow the... (full context)
Chapter 33: The Specksnyder
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...actual lancing of whales to the whaler’s life. Ishmael then discusses, briefly, the nature of Ahab’s particular grandeur. He is clearly a captain who delights in his “sultanism,” or his dictatorship... (full context)
Chapter 34: The Cabin-Table
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Ishmael then notes, briefly, the nature of Ahab’s dining. Ahab eats his dinner each nigh with the three mates, and they sit at... (full context)
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...makes the officers and the harpooneers feel comfortable lounging and talking in the captain’s quarters, Ahab engenders no such camaraderie, but instead keeps mostly to himself before and after meal times. (full context)
Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck
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Ahab, after pacing for several days around the quarterdeck, and appearing as though he has something... (full context)
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Starbuck alone protests to Ahab, saying that he and others shipped not for “vengeance” on one fish, but on a... (full context)
Chapter 37: Sunset
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This short chapter is told from the perspective of Ahab’s internal monologue, and has him sitting alone in his cabin, reciting to himself that, although... (full context)
Chapter 38: Dusk
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Starbuck has his own internal monologue, in which he says to himself that Ahab is a madman, that nothing good can come of his obsession with Moby Dick, and... (full context)
Chapter 39: First Night Watch
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Stubb talks to himself, too, and in characteristic fashion, saying that of course Ahab is mad, but that Stubb will “go along with it,” as is best. Stubb sees... (full context)
Chapter 40: Midnight, Forecastle
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...on the deck, as a kind of wild celebration they say is brought on by Ahab’s exhortation to them (to kill Moby Dick), and by the wine Ahab has had them... (full context)
Chapter 41: Moby Dick
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...at length in the next chapter. Ishmael then relates to the reader the nature of Ahab’s first encounter with Moby Dick. Essentially, the White Whale stove (or capsized) the three small... (full context)
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On this, Ahab’s previous voyage, Ahab was taken back onto the Pequod and was wrapped in a strait-jacket... (full context)
Chapter 44: The Chart
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Ishmael reports that Ahab could be seen the night of the storm in his own chambers, consulting several nautical... (full context)
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Ishmael goes on to say that, when Ahab emerges from his cabin after looking at his charts, he often looks like a “man... (full context)
Chapter 46: Surmises
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Ishmael here writes that, although Ahab is singularly devoted to the catching and killing of Moby Dick, still he is “not... (full context)
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Thus, Ishmael writes, Ahab knows he must keep his crew occupied, just as knights on a quest for the... (full context)
Chapter 48: The First Lowering
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One of this “dusky band,” called Fedallah by Ahab, appears to be of Chinese or Filipino descent; he is the harpooneer of an extra... (full context)
Chapter 50: Ahab’s Boat and Crew. Fedallah.
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Stubb and Flask talk briefly of how strange it is that Ahab has his own whale-boat under his command. It is not common for the captain of... (full context)
Chapter 51: The Spirit-Spout
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...mast-head and claims to see a white spout around midnight, illuminated by the moon. Although Ahab attempts to pursue this spout, and believes it, along with many of the crew, to... (full context)
Chapter 52: The Albatross
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...and on which the crew appears to be starving, half-mad, and clothed in “animal skins.” Ahab attempts to pull up next to The Albatross and speak to the captain of that... (full context)
Chapter 53: The Gam
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Ishmael tells the reader that Ahab would probably not have had much to say to the crew of the Albatross, even... (full context)
Chapter 59: Squid
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...it is only a giant squid—a rare sight even for experienced whalemen—and not Moby Dick. Ahab is disappointed and returns to the Pequod, although others on the boat understand that giant... (full context)
Chapter 70: The Sphynx
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...minutes.” When the head is halfway hoisted and dragged behind the back of the boat, Ahab walks out to it and speaks directly to it, saying that, although the whale’s head... (full context)
Chapter 71: The Jeroboam’s Story
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Ahab hears this story from Mayhew and Gabriel during a gam between the two boats, but... (full context)
Chapter 73: Stubb and Flask Kill a Right Whale; and Then Have a Talk
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...in the vicinity. Although the Pequod’s crew is licensed only to hunt sperm whales, nevertheless Ahab orders that Flask and Stubb each take out a whale-boat and catch the nearest right... (full context)
Chapter 87: The Grand Armada
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...A large pod of whales, called by Ishmael a “grand armada,” is seen, and immediately Ahab orders the men to pursue the pod, noting after a few minutes that the Pequod... (full context)
Chapter 96: The Try-Works
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...burning down whale blubber. Ishmael believes that the try-works represent the dark, burning heart of Ahab himself, and of the quest to find Moby-Dick. Ishmael falls into a dream-state, and wakes... (full context)
Chapter 99: The Doubloon
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...the gold doubloon (made in Quito, and inscribed with various patterns and island scenes) that Ahab nailed to the main-mast on the day he challenged the Pequod to find and kill... (full context)
Chapter 100: Leg and Arm
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Ahab spots another whaling ship, this time an English one called the Samuel Enderby, and pulls... (full context)
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Boomer tells Ahab that the Sammy pulled up alongside Moby Dick along the Line (the equator), and noting... (full context)
Chapter 101: The Decanter
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...discusses the hospitality he once later received on the “Sammy,” long after his time with Ahab—it was off the “Patagonian coast,” and the crew of the Sammy was so generous with... (full context)
Chapter 106: Ahab’s Leg
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When Ahab leaves the deck of the Samuel Enderby, and half-jumps back onto the deck of the... (full context)
Chapter 108: Ahab and the Carpenter
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Ahab and the carpenter have a dialogue in the form of a play. In the first... (full context)
Chapter 109: Ahab and Starbuck in the Cabin
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...Pequod, that some of the oil casks in the hold are leaking. Starbuck goes to Ahab to inform him of this, and Starbuck advises that they stop and inspect the casks... (full context)
Chapter 111: The Pacific
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...the Pacific Ocean, which Ishmael remarks upon for its calm and “serenity.” Ishmael notes that Ahab stands looking out at the Pacific, but does not seem to notice its calmness—instead, Ahab... (full context)
Chapter 113: The Forge
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Ahab decides that he wants to ask the blacksmith to forge him a new harpoon, for... (full context)
Chapter 114: The Gilder
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...after smaller prey. Ishmael notes that all on the ship, including Starbuck, Stubb, and even Ahab himself, appear touched by the “golden” light and glow of the day, although Ahab also... (full context)
Chapter 115: The Pequod Meets the Bachelor
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...had a successful whale hunt. The mood on the Bachelor is uniformly jolly, and when Ahab stops the captain during a brief gam and asks whether he has seen Moby Dick,... (full context)
Chapter 116: The Dying Whale
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...to rub off on the Pequod, which spotted and killed four whales the next day. Ahab himself killed one of them, and from his whale boat Ishmael notes that Ahab looked... (full context)
Chapter 117: The Whale Watch
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Fedallah and Ahab stay awake that night, watching the dying whale as the boat is hooked to it,... (full context)
Chapter 118: The Quadrant
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Ahab takes out his quadrant a few days later, attempting to determine the ship’s location, whether... (full context)
Chapter 119: The Candles
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...crew prepares the ship by lowering the sails and attempting to ride out the storm. Ahab, on deck with the other mates and the harpooneers, notices that the three masts of... (full context)
Chapter 120: The Deck Towards the End of the First Night Watch
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...shouldn’t be further fixed, in order to keep the boat afloat in the storm, but Ahab tells Starbuck to “strike nothing,” and instead orders the mate to ride out the storm... (full context)
Chapter 121: Midnight. –The Forecastle Bulwarks
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Stubb and Flask bring in the anchors upon Ahab’s order, and Stubb and Flask remark to one another that it seems “the anchors won’t... (full context)
Chapter 123: The Musket
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...to move in its normal direction, roughly eastward, despite the storm. Starbuck goes down to Ahab’s cabin to inform him that the ship is now moving, but outside Ahab’s door, Starbuck... (full context)
Chapter 124: The Needle
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Ahab awakes the next morning to find that the compass needles of the ship have been... (full context)
Chapter 125: The Log and Line
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Ishmael observes that, when the quadrant was working, Ahab did not feel it necessary to use the “log and line,” or a bob attached... (full context)
Chapter 126: The Life-Buoy
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Ahab orders that the carpenter use Queequeg’s coffin as the new life buoy, covering over its... (full context)
Chapter 127: The Deck
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Ahab has a short conversation with the carpenter as he seals the coffin. Pip, following behind... (full context)
Chapter 128: The Pequod Meets the Rachel
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Gardiner asks if Ahab will join with him and his crew in seeking out his lost whale boat, in... (full context)
Chapter 129: The Cabin
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Ahab tells Pip that Pip must leave him—that they are embarking on the portion of the... (full context)
Chapter 130: The Hat
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...awaiting the final encounter with Moby Dick. Fedallah seems never to sleep, and neither does Ahab, whose hat is pulled down so low of his eyes that no one can tell... (full context)
Chapter 131: The Pequod Meets the Delight
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...should encounter a ship called Delight that is so burdened with woe, the next day. Ahab asks that captain if he has seen the whale, and the captain says he has,... (full context)
Chapter 132: The Symphony
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Ahab, high on his watch, turns to Starbuck after many hours, and begins a long harangue... (full context)
Chapter 133: The Chase. – First Day
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Finally, after countless days of searching, Ahab sights Moby Dick’s spout from the top of the main mast of the Pequod. Although... (full context)
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...god from Greek myth or the Bible—indeed, Moby Dick appeared more beautiful than a god. Ahab’s boat approaches the whale first, and Ahab grabs his harpoon from Fedallah—the one made for... (full context)
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One of the other whaleboats picks up Ahab and the rest of the crew, and no one is hurt by the whale, who... (full context)
Chapter 134: The Chase. – Second Day
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...is straight ahead, and Starbuck is once again left in command of the Pequod, as Ahab, Stubb, and Flask lower into their boats. The three boats chase Moby Dick, with Ahab... (full context)
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Ahab cuts his boat free with his much-loved harpoon, fashioned by Perth, but the other two... (full context)
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The Pequod manages to scoop up all the sailors, mates, and Ahab, who are swimming in the nearby waters, as Moby Dick glides quickly away. But Ahab... (full context)
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Ahab mourns his friend and comrade in battle, and wonders if this doesn’t spell doom for... (full context)
Chapter 135: The Chase. – Third Day
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The next day dawns, and though the whale has not been spotted the previous night, Ahab knows it is close by. Then, after a few minutes, Ahab himself finds the whale,... (full context)
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...try to make the boats ready and water-tight, to continue to attack Moby Dick. Meanwhile, Ahab sees a horrific sight: Fedallah’s body is trapped against the White Whale’s, for he was... (full context)
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Ahab realizes this is the first hearse of Fedallah’s prophecy, and wonders what the second will... (full context)
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Ahab recovers, orders the crew back into the boat, and realizes that Moby Dick has turned... (full context)
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That next instant, Ahab realizes he has one final shot with his harpoon at the whale, and urges the... (full context)
Epilogue
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...survive the wreck,” and it was he, Ishmael. Ishmael “took the place of Fedallah” in Ahab’s boat, and Ishmael survived . The “vortex” created by the sinking Pequod and which caused... (full context)