Thematic Essay On Belief Systems

From the trinity of God, and Christ’s resurrection on the third day, to the three fates and Ahab’s utilization of pagan rituals, many thematic elements in the novel reveal themselves to be connected by the use of the number.

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Combining Ahab’s pursuit with the prevalence of the number three leads to an analysis that the number is used to emphasize a merging of various belief systems.

Ahab is depicted as blending, utilizing, and disregarding spiritual elements that don’t venture far from each other to begin with.

Doing so, grants the number a comprehensive presence.

In the very beginning of the novel, the number three is mentioned as Ishmael attempts to make sense of the painting in the Spouter-Inn: “But what most puzzled and confounded you was a long, limber, portentous, black mass of something hovering in the centre of the picture over three blue, dim, perpendicular lines floating in a nameless yeast.

This estimation is not counting the descriptions of the fates or the Trinity, but is calculated by the narrator’s decision to use the mathematical representation of the number.

More often than not, when a number is used to describe a distance, a quantity of people, or objects associated with the Pequod, the number three is chosen by the narrator.

The number suspiciously weaves through the narrative and Melville seems to be acknowledging the similarities in religions through his use of the number, especially in moments of spiritual discourse.

Why Should the Number Three be Considered a Motif Now that the pervasiveness of three has been mapped in various belief systems, it is necessary to outline why the number’s spiritual connotations are relevant to Moby Dick.

“Most men worship the gods because they want success in their worldly undertakings.

Men whose discrimination has been blunted by worldly desires, establish this or that ritual or cult and resort to various deities, according to the impulse of their inborn nature.” –Bhagavad Gita (Huxley 264-265) The number three makes roughly two-hundred and fifty appearances in Herman Melville’s novel, .


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