Analysis of the Blanket
The whale is a creature that has evaded man’s understanding foryears. Many individuals, including scholars and scientists havecarried out studies on the Sperm Whale to determine its variouscharacteristics and features. Any research has its own challenges anddoing a research on a Whale has proved to be very challenging. Thisis attributed to its hugeness and complicated features which make iteven harder to understand it. In an attempt to explain thedelicateness and the unique components of the whale’s skin orblanket and the possible reasons why the blanket is so delineated,Herman Melville employs the use of the whale, Moby Dick. By centeringhis focus on the theme of the complexity and function of the whale’sblanket, the author is able to effectively reinforce the main themeof the novel which is the incomprehensibility and the inability toclearly define the whale, using symbolism to make the chapter toserve as an allegory and using quotations to make a significant pointthat no animal is as vast as the Sperm Whale. The main theme of thechapter is the complexity and usefulness of the whale’s skin,referred to symbolically as the blanket. It symbolizes a blanket asthe whale is “…wrapped up in his blubber as in a real blanket…”(Melville 342). It is the skin that can keep the whale warm and alivein the extremely cold Arctic environments. This skin is very uniquein terms of its make-up, being “…firm, close-grained…” yet itis still “…tougher, more elastic and compact…” (Melville340). It produces ten tons of oil which makes up only three quartersof the whole mass of the skin. It is also made up of a uniquely“…thin, transparent substance…” that the author likens to“…the thinnest shreds of isinglass…” (Melville 340). Whatmakes it even more unique, according to the author, is that thesubstance is flexible. The skin of the Sperm Whale is howevernot the only unique and hard to explain part of the whale. This isonly just a reinforcement of the larger picture of how complicated itis to describe the whale according to human knowledge andunderstanding. For instance, the mystery of why the thin transparentouter layer of the blanket rather than contracting and thickeningupon drying as is expected, it becomes “…rather hard andbrittle…” is a representation of the inability to completelycomprehend the magnificence of the Sperm Whale (Melville341). Melville uses symbolism throughout the chapter in order tohelp his readers to relate to the topic or object described. Forinstance, in explaining the glassiness of the thin layer, hesymbolizes it with the isinglass (Melville 340). This way, the readercan easily perceive how much the layer is transparent. The authoralso uses symbolism while likening the skin of the whale to ablanket. Because almost every human being knows and uses a blanket ineveryday life, likening the skin to a blanket makes people to betterunderstand its function to a whale and its position on the whale’sbody. In reintroducing the magnificence of the whale as a whole,Melville uses symbolism by comparing the whale to St. PetersCathedral, one of the most magnificent towers. Even thoughthe story is generally all about the elegance and mystery of the skinof a whale, enclosing the whale’s huge body, the author goes aheadto reveal its hidden meaning. He says that the story reveals “…therare virtue of a strong individual vitality…” and the otheruncommon quality of ‘thick walls’ with a ‘spacious interior’(Melville 343). These are traits that should be copied from thenature of the whale to use as our guiding principle in life, beingable to keep “…warm among ice…” and living in the world yetnot belonging to it (Melville 343). Just like the whale keeps warm inthe coldest conditions, the author advises that all humans should inall seasons keep temperatures of their own. In order to make itclear that the whale is indeed unique and incomparable even to humanbeings, the author says, “…how wonderful that he should be foundat home, immersed to his lips for life in those Arctic waters!”(Melville 343). In stating this, the author clearly shows how thewhale lives and flourishes in the toughest and the coldestconditions. He also shows in this particular quote that the creatureis mysterious and incomparable to other animals in the waters. Thischapter of the book by Melville is a wonderful description of howimportant the skin is to the shark. It goes further to reintroducethe main theme of the book. The animal is a unique animal that hasnot been seen by many people. Due to its uniqueness is a proper touse symbolism to help paint the picture more brightly. The story canbe applied to the lives of humans where they can learn to stay calmamidst the storms of life and the coldest of seasons. By use of somegiven quotes, the author has been able to make wonderful explanationsto further our understanding of the whale.
Melville,Herman. MobyDick, Or, The Whale.[Auckland, N.Z.]: Floating Press, 2008. Print.