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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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Freedom. The basic, yet insubstantial, ideal...Freedom. The basic, yet insubstantial, ideal for which America was founded. Described as liberty, autonomy, or sovereignty, freedom is possibly the most common basic right of humans. Despite this commonality, it is perhaps the one word in the dictionary that has an extraordinarily individualistic meaning to every single person. The studied authors of American literature represent this belief in each of their writings. The coercion of personal freedom is one of the worst travesties one might ever face, as many individuals did face in our readings. Predominantly Native Americans, Blacks, and women are found most commonly oppressed due to ignorance of others and society of their respective times. Native Americans, perhaps, embody the purest thoughts of simple freedom. "We came to these mountains about us; no one lived here, and so we took them for our home and country" 277, Cochise says in his narration, "I am alone." During the westward expansion of the mid and late 1800s, Native Americans were stripped of their freedom, along with their land. He illustrates not only why Native Americans love their freedom of land and nature, but also why this freedom should not be oppressed and why Native Americans should not be forced from their homelands. Charlot also supports this: "We cherished him--yes, befriended him, and showed [him] the fords and defiles of our lands" 280. Native Americans, according to Charlot, were willing to compromise with the white man and share their land as long as they could maintain their freedom and land. Eastman also supported Charlot's compromise. In his work "From the Deep Woods" 633, he says, "There is only one thing for us to do and be just to both sides. We must use every means for peaceful settlement in this difficulty" 639. Whites, in ignorant belief that Native Americans had no freedoms, savagely invaded Indian settlements and camps, as Eastman continues, "Troops opened fire form all sides, killing not only unarmed men, women, and children, but their own comrades who stood opposite them, for the camp was entirely surrounded" 644. Here, freedom is atrociously stripped with the repression of the Native Americans. Although freedom has different individual meanings for each of the African-American writers we have studied, they all translate freedom into the achievement of equality, esteem, and full rights and emancipation equivalent to those of whites. Booker T. Washington vividly illustrates the sacredness of his freedom as he recalls his own experiences as a slave in Up From Slavery 581. He is a prime example of someone who is proud to the utmost degree of his personal freedom, and that of his entire race; with this, he tells how Blacks now must keep themselves free and bring themselves up to the freedom of whites. He says, "When you have gotten the full story of the heroic conduct of the Negro in the Spanish-American war"¦then decide within yourselves whether a race that is thus willing to die for its country should not be given the highest opportunity to live for its country" 611. More sanguine with his poetry, Langston Hughes' "I, Too" 1733, implies that the black man today is seen as beneath whites and still less than human, despite emancipation almost a century before. The narrator tells of his woes of being "the darker brother" and how whites, shown when he is sent to eat in the kitchen when company comes, demean him. Optimistic, be brightens his tone, "Tomorrow, I'll sit at the table/When company comes" 1733. He reminds himself and the reader that one day soon, he will be a racial equal to whites and they will be "ashamed" for belittling him, seen when she says, "I too, am America" 1734. In "The Wife of His Youth", Charles Chesnutt writes a symbolic romance to show his personal views on freedom in the antebellum period. Once the wife of his youth, 'Liza Jane, finds Mr. Ryder, the husband of her own youth, Ryder is faced with the chance to maintain his self-attained freedom of high-class mulatto society, or return to 'Liza Jane, allowing himself to harbor the freedom of fate in this situation. Finally, Zora Neale Hurston exhibits her racial freedom proudly in "How It Feels to Be Colored Me," written later than Washington and Chesnutt. She says, "But I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes" 1437. Showing her freedom of voice, she continues, "I have no separate feeling about being an American citizen and colored. I am merely a fragment of the Great Soul that surges within the boundaries. My country, right or wrong" 1438. Unlike the more physical oppression of Native Americans and Blacks, women in both history and American literature, were the most emotionally subjugated. The idea woman was seldom seen and never heard, godforbid she have her own opinions or, gasp, even a job. Simply wanting to express their freedom, women stepped outside of the socially allotted norms were seen as improper. Edna Pontellier is Kate Chopin"s own exhibition of freedom as seen in The Awakening. Despite Edna's longing for independence, she is confined within the walls of her entrapping world. Chopin broke all social expectations of women through Edna's character. Edna's husband, Mr. Pontellier, was in such fear of Edna's screaming independence; he consulted his friend Dr. Mandalet, who assured his "The mood will pass" 520. Edna simply wanted to be free; free of family, free of responsibilities, and free of the confining life she led. Like Chopin, Charlotte Gilman wrote The Yellow Wall-Paper to voice her own believes through fiction. "For many years I suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown tending to melancholia"”and beyond" 669, she says. Following her breakdown, she saw a specialist of this nature: "This wise man put me to bed and applied the rest cure, to which a still good physique responded so promptly that he concluded there was nothing much the matter with me, and sent me home with the solemn advice to 'live as domestic a life as far as possible'" 669. Gilman expressed her independence in her writings, and with this fear, even her doctor tried to convince her she should follow the domestic capacities of the time. What domineering men of the turn of the century failed to realize was that they were the oppressors to an independent race, just like the Native Americans or Blacks. In W.D. Howells' Editha 258, a different freedom is exemplified in the respect that Howells is a man; unable to share the same oppressed emotions as Chopin and Gilman. Editha naïvely as the jingoism bug and finds war to be gloriously exciting and romantic. Just as naïve, her fiancée, George, fears war, but goes to fight to please Editha. Editha admired freedom as the ability to fight for and respect her country, while George views freedom as having the choice not to fight in the war; this conflict of beliefs provides the illusive conflict of the meaning of freedom in time of war, despite the conquering power of love. Freedom will never have one definition, much like many personal and conflicting convictions held by each individual. Noticeably, however, it was the three major groups thought of to have the most struggles in America that are so illustrated in our literary readings: Native Americans, Blacks, and women. The individuality of freedom stems in each authors writings as their own emotions are given life in their works. Freedom is the most basic, yet prominent, of individual human rights. Although each writer touches upon their personal passions regarding the struggle for freedom, one set meaning of freedom will fail to ever exist.   

Freedom. The basic, yet insubstantial, ideal for which America was founded. Described as liberty, autonomy, or sovereignty, freedom is possibly the most common basic right of humans. Despite this commonality, it is perhaps the one word in the dictionary that has an extraordinarily individualistic meaning to every single person. The...

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