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Tone in Moby Dick

Tone Examples in Moby Dick:

Chapter 1 - Loomings.

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"Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever...."   (Chapter 1 - Loomings.)

The structure of this opening chapter is as much expository as narrative. While setting the story on its feet, Ishmael is most concerned with the construction of an argument about the deep philosophical importance of water to humans. Pay attention to Ishmael's rhetorical tendencies throughout the novel. You may find that a great many of the novel's chapters step away from the plot and into a space of intellectual reflection.

"Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon...."   (Chapter 1 - Loomings.)

This paragraph is exemplary of the experimental styles Melville plays with throughout the novel. Ishmael's direct address to the reader clues us in to the reality that Moby-Dick is not a traditional novel, with an expected first- or third-person narration that adheres to the telling of the story. Note the oratorical bravado. Notice the combinations of long, rapturous, list-based sentences with short, punchy commands and questions.

"I go as a simple sailor..."   (Chapter 1 - Loomings.)

An important part of Ishmael’s character is revealed here. Ishmael never desires a grand name or a grand rank or a grand result from his adventures on the sea. He only desires to be a “simple sailor.” However, Ishmael is far from a simple person. His narration reveals that he actually remains deep in thought, constantly examining events in his cerebral, exuberant manner.

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