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< Back to question Is Moby-Dick worth reading? Show more Show less

"Moby-Dick; Or, The Whale" is is often touted as one of the greatest novels of all time, or at the very least, one of the greatest American novels. "Moby-Dick" is thought to be both revolutionary in its scale and scope, while also being a celebration of literature's past. At the same time, the novel finds critics in its verbose and seemingly pointless meanderings on whales and whaling. Is "Moby-Dick" truly worth reading?

No, Moby-Dick is not worth reading Show more Show less

"Moby-Dick" is pompous, boring, and often incomprehensible to the average reader.
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Moby-Dick is no longer relevant to modern readers

Moby Dick, written in 1851 by Herman Melville, is outdated not just because when it was written but because of its racial content that contributes little towards the development of morals and beliefs for the students reading this but because it lacks lessons meaningful in today's society.
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Proponents


Context

Moby Dick is an obsolete writing that, while a good read during its time, lacks any meaningful contribution for todays readers beyond being considered old literature.

The Argument

The story of Moby Dick revolves around whaling which in today's society is a dying profession. Japan and Iceland are two of the only countries that are still whaling, allowed only with the permission of ‘scientific permits.[1] In the past, whales were hunted for their blubber to make oil.[2] At the height of whaling, from the 1700s to the very early 1900s, most homes still used gas lights and hadn’t yet made the switch to electricity. These gas lights used whale oil to operate. The labeling of whales as an endangered species occurred only recently due to overhunting.[3] Teaching history through straight-forward factual accounts is more informative, as the relevance of whale hunting is beginning to wane in today's society. Not only that but Moby Dick is a collection of metaphors formed into a narrative to define man's struggle, morality, and mortality. While these metaphors may have once been relevant, in modern society the story lacks the impact it used to have.[4]

Counter arguments

While Moby Dick is a classic piece of literature, that does not reduce its importance or its relevance. The book's following of Ishmael's narrative allows for students to both speculate and discuss the intent of the narrative. Since the readers do not know if Ishmael is truly his name or his origin, the literature is interpretive. [5] The book contains many metaphors about religion, meaning, and morality. These metaphorical qualities not only add to the story's character but allows insight into the characters and who they are as people. Ishmael's experience on the ship also highlights the diversity of characters, races, and experiences in the novel. Though it does have a large focus on Ishmael's line of thinking and the knowledge he possesses, Moby Dick is an excellent introduction to classic American and romantic literature.

Premises

[P1] Moby Dick lacks the cultural relevance today that it had in the past.

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/endangered_species/cetaceans/threats/whaling/
  2. https://wwf.panda.org/?13796/The-History-of-Whaling-and-the-International-Whaling-Commission-IWC
  3. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/article/big-fish-history-whaling/
  4. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40753648?seq=8#metadata_info_tab_contents
  5. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=8MwvZhV8eLsC&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=meaning+of+Moby+dick&ots=Xvjo9Gqhnp&sig=dk2TVsWDH-lO_uAXGhz6V7LE1BM#v=onepage&q=meaning%20of%20Moby%20dick&f=false

This page was last edited on Tuesday, 15 Sep 2020 at 18:39 UTC

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