“Call me Ishmael” is how it all starts. Alright, Ishmael, I’ll listen to your story. It is your story, isn’t it? Your story, Ahab’s story, Melville’s story…
Anyway. The first thirty-five chapters are in Ishmael’s voice. We learn what is happening through Ish’s point of view. “Great!” I think. When it comes time to answer “The Questions,” I’ll know how to respond to the point-of-view one. But something changes in chapter 36. Did you notice the play-like scene instructions?
Enter Ahab: Then, all.
Did someone swap my copy of the novel for a playbook? Is there going to be a list of needed props coming up? I’m not sure where to get a harpoon.
The cabin; by the stern windows;
Ahab sitting alone, and gazing out.
More scene setting.
And then the story continues with Ahab. His thoughts. A monologue? An internal monologue? What’s going on here? Where’s Ishmael?
Chapters 38 and 39 are more of the same. Ishmael is no longer the narrator, instead the reader gets a peek into the minds of Starbuck and Stubbs.
Chapter 40? Chapter 40 is a mini-play. Didn’t Melville know I’m not slated to read dramas until 2018 at the earliest? Is this where Melville does a little Shakespeare imitation? I caught that “signifying nothing” misquote in chapter 32. Maybe we should put these chapters on as a dramatic performance. I’ll be the 5th Nantucket Sailor. He only has one line.
The moral of my story is that the Point of View in Moby-Dick changes.