The rich visual imagery used to describe the appearance of the Pequod paints a gruesome image that foreshadows the ship’s dark and violent journey ahead. In intricate detail, Ishmael paints a striking image of the Pequod’s exterior, which draws him to the ship. He says:
She was apparelled like any barbaric Ethiopian emperor, his neck heavy with pendants of polished ivory. She was a thing of trophies. A cannibal of a craft, tricking herself forth in the chased bones of her enemies. All round, her unpanelled, open bulwarks were garnished like one continuous jaw, with the long sharp teeth of the sperm whale.
This description of the Pequod is gothic and haunting, as the ship is described as being covered in bones and teeth. The excess of language reflects the decadence of the image described, with the boat likened to a warrior dripping with pendants. The range of countries referred to in the description of the Pequod is also notable, as Ishmael elsewhere compares it in various ways to Ethiopia, France, Egypt, Siberia, Japan, Germany, England, and North America. This emphasis on worldliness reflects the diversity of the whaling industry itself: the crew of the Pequod come from different corners of the world. This element is one example of the way the physical ship functions as a representation of its crew.
The use of personification is also important. Ishmael gives the ship with its own power and depicts it as a monster in and of itself. Not only is the ship referred to as a “she,” it is also ascribed with its own anatomy, as Ishmael describes its “jaw," its “brows,” and its “complexion.” What's more, the ship apparently even has its own “enemies”—that is, the whales previously hunted by men on the ship. By referring to these as the enemies of the ship itself, Ishmael conflates the crew and the ship in a way that puts an emphasis on the way they come to be bound together. In turn, the Pequod itself functions as a representation of its passengers. With this in mind, the morbidity of the ship’s decoration becomes even more significant, as it foreshadows the fatalities and the loss that lie ahead. After all, the men and the ship will come to meet their ends together.