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There are many schools of literary criticism One of the most popular schools is moral criticism This school is often called philosophical criticism or ethical criticism Moby Dick by Herman Melville is often the subject of moral criticism because of the religious undertones morality of Ishmael and symbolism throughout the novel The novel centers around the conflict between Captain Ahab captain of the whaler Pequod and Moby Dick a great white whale that cause Ahab to lose his leg Ahab seeks revenge on the whale and leads his crew into great danger to accomplish his goals Moby Dick destroys the Pequod and all its crew except for Ishmael the narrator of the novel Moby Dick is filled with symbolism and religious undertones Moral criticism deals with dogmatic influence mainly Christianity Moral critics believe that the larger function of literature is to teach morality and probe philosophical issues Todorov a moral critic stated that the relation to values is inherent in literature Moby Dick depicts Christian values through Starbuck the first mate of the Pequod Starbuck thinks that Ahabs quest for revenge is blasphemous He finds an opportunity to kill Ahab and save the Pequod from the destructive quest for Moby Dick however his morals prohibit him from killing another man Had Starbuck ignored Christian values and murdered Ahab he would have saved himself and the rest of the crew Another example of religion in Moby Dick is Ahabs conflict with fate He goes against God because he wants to control his own destiny Ahab breaks a compass in the novel to depict his rebellion against fate and God Moral Critics believe that people often relate the characters in novels to themselves They also believe that stories can have an influence on ethos or who we become which makes ethical criticism necessary The opening line of Moby Dick Call me Ishmael is an invitation to the reader to identify with the character Ishmael
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