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Herman Melville: Similarities in Claggart and Captain Ahab
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Herman Melville was a struggling writer in the mid-1800s, who spent a few years of his life as a sailor and crew member of whaling ships in the south seas. These experiences greatly influenced his writing, causing there to be many similarities among his novels. In two of his works, Moby-Dick, and Billy Budd, Melville seems to have created two characters, Captain Ahab from Moby-Dick, and John Claggart from Billy Budd, who both share some very comparable qualities and experiences. The most prevalent characteristic that links them together is that in their stories, they both possess an unrelenting and somewhat...
feel toward that individual. Their envy is rather complex, but can be simplified in that the reason for Ahab hating the whale Moby-Dick, and Claggart hating the sailor Billy Budd, is that Moby-Dick and Billy both exhibit qualities of magnificence and strength, that Ahab and Claggart do not. Then, in the end, the strength of the whale and Billy of which they both abhor, is ironically the cause of both of their deaths. It is with these connections of spirit, personality, and experience in Captain Ahab and John Claggart, that best display the similarities between these Herman Melville characters.
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