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The archetypal quest and Moby-Dick : Melville's "Ecological, Cosmic Democracy"


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Jenkins, Mary 1993 , 'The archetypal quest and Moby-Dick : Melville's "Ecological, Cosmic Democracy"', Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The quest is an archetypal theme of myth and literature, one
which indicates the dreams, ideas and beliefs of a society. Our
myths, and our literature, contribute to the way we are today, how
we are shaped, how we think, and how we act. "Intentionally, or
accidentally, [they have] been a major source of the models used
to perpetuate our past".
Much can be learnt from the wisdoms of these stories.
However, we need to be aware of the fact that the dominant
recorders of society's myths, literature, and history, including the
Bible, have been men who, in many instances, have been able to
achieve political and social ends by the manipulation of these
recordings. Today we have the patriarchal, technocratic, inverted quest for
domination and 'progress' at the cost of nature; and opposed to
this, the ecosophic quest: that of "ecologically wise action and
ecological wisdom" which seeks to regain harmony and
egalitarian relationships between man and man, man and
woman, and humankind and nature. The questers of Herman
Melville's Moby-Dick, Captain Ahab and Ishmael, in their
opposite roles (one heading towards disaster and the other towards survival) can be seen to represent the two kinds of quests
Ahab is the tragic hero-quester. He is capable of greatness but is
flawed by hubris and his dark desire for vengeance against the
whale which has dismembered him, Moby Dick. Ishmael, the
narrator of the novel, turns away from Ahab's mad, inverted
quest. His progressive insights, his bonding with his dark
partner, and his acknowledgement of the whale as a fellow being,
contribute to his 'democratic' attitude and to his survival. It is
through Ishmael's eyes that we see Melville's "ecological, cosmic
democracy". If we are to change our direction from its present course, which
seems to be one directed towards disaster, we need to learn from
the past, but with a reminder of how the past has been
transmitted to us. We need to actively strive towards reshaping
our future, so that we perpetuate archetypes that are nature oriented.
We need to consciously ~e-verse and re-quest a shaping
of our present and our future, bearing in mind Melville's
reminder of the "obstinate survival of old beliefs". Change will
occur only with a change of our thinking patterns:
The borders of our minds are ever shifting
And many minds can flow into one another ...
And create or reveal a single mind, a single energy.

Item Type: Thesis - Unspecified
Authors/Creators:Jenkins, Mary
Keywords: Melville, Herman, 1819-1891, Archetype (Psychology), Ecology
Copyright Holders: The Author
Additional Information:

Thesis (M.Env.St.)--University of Tasmania, 1993. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 91-94)

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