Past criticism of Moby-Dick has failed to uncover a unifying theme for this novel. A critical analysis of the novel’s allusions to history and to the Bible demonstrates that the novel juxtaposes the division of the Hebrew nation into the kingdoms of Judah and Israel with the divide in Christendom resulting from the Reformation. Issues of cannibalism in the novel reflect Reformation beliefs about idolatry and its relationship to the Catholic theology of the Eucharist. Melville’s purpose in Moby-Dick is to place the origin of the nineteenth century savage cannibal trope in the Reformation when issues of cannibalism relating to the Catholic Eucharist were conflated with the cannibalism thought to exist among the ‘wild’ Irish and ‘savage’ Native Americans. This paper concludes the novel does have a unifying theme. Moby-Dick is a deconstruction of the savage cannibal trope in the historical and religious context of western culture.
|Advisor:||McAllister, Catherine, Edwards, Gregory|
|School:||State University of New York Empire State College|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||MAI 49/04M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Religious history, American literature|
|Keywords:||Bible, Cannibalism, Eucharist, Herman, Melville, Moby-dick, Religion|
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