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An Ecocritical Interpretation of Trio-relations in Melville’s Moby Dick

Author QinYuanGang
Tutor ZhaoJianXia
School Zhengzhou University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Moby Dick Herman Melville ecocriticism trio-relations
Type Master's thesis
Year 2008
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Moby Dick, written by the famous American novelist, Herman Melville (1819-1891), is a masterpiece concerning trio-relations of human-nature, human-human and human-self, which was seen as an encyclopedia in the nineteenth century American literature. The epic novel subtly delineates the destroyed sea journey of human being during his tragic war with the whale, which includes the author’s enlightened understanding and thinking about the human being, nature and society. Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is fore-conscious of the ecological crisis, and contains profound ecological enlightenment.Before ecocriticism came into being, the study of Moby Dick was mainly focused on discussing the language, structure and writing style of the novel or Ahab’s quality of tragic heroism. After that, scholars and critics began to interpret Moby Dick with an ecocritical approach. Some scholars focus on the relationship of human and nature and reveal that the hatred to nature will lead to inevitable tragedy, and mankind and nature should be kept in harmony. Others expose ecocrisis, appeal for ecological protection and so on. They all lack of profound reflection on the ecological problems and thorough inquiry.The thesis applies trio-relations to the ecocritical interpretation of Moby Dick based on Professor Lu Shuyuan’s classification of ecology, which depicts ecology from three aspects based on interactions and effects of the balance and imbalance of human-nature, human-human and human-self relation.The thesis consisits of six parts, including introduction, four chapters, and conclusion.Introduction is a brief introduction to the academic studies in Moby Dick, points out the significance of the ecological trio-relations study based on the analysis of the different focuses on the novel.Chapter One explains ecocriticism and its research status in china, and interprets trio-relations of human-nature, human-human, human-self, which are classified by Lu Shuyuan.Chapter Two analyses the imbalance of trio-relations in Moby Dick and the causes of the imbalance of trio-relations from the social background and other perspectives.Chapter Three explores the interactions and effects of imbalanced trio-relations based on the vicious circle of trio-relations reflected in Ahab.Chapter Four depicts virtuous circle of trio-relations reflected in Ishmael to show the balanced trio-relations in Moby Dick.Conclusion: the harmony of ecosystem symbolizes the balanced relationships coexisting among nature, society and human. The ecological trio-relations of human-nature, human-human and human-self are an organic whole through analysing the balanced trio-relations reflected in Ishmael, any imbalanced relation among trio-relations will lead to the changes and imbalance of ecosphere through analysing the imbalanced trio-relations reflected in Ahab.Generally speaking, the imbalance of human and nature furthers the tension of human relationship in society, the tension of huaman relationship causes one’s alienation from society, worsens the relation of human and self, the imbalance of human and self stimulates human’s desire to control nature, which exacerbates the imbalance of human and nature.Melville reveals that man and nature are closely interconnected, and can never be separated from each other. In order to live on earth harmoniously, we have to adapt into the ecosphere by respecting nature, taking proper advantage of nature, and finding our spirit-habitat in nature, because nature is not only a helper of human beings, but also a spiritual teacher who teaches us the meaning of life. Only finding our proper position and respecting nature in the face of nature can we build the truly harmonious coexistence of the ecological trio-relations. Then, human and nature can coexist harmoniously in a "web", which composes oneness.

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