Moby-Dick: Humanities Connection The Whale as Archetype • An archetype is an image, a symbol, a character, or a plot that recurs so consistently across cultures and time that it is considered universal. • The term comes from Swiss psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961), who believed that certain human experiences have become a shared genetic memory. • According to Jung, this “collective unconscious” explains why archetypes evoke strong feelings in people of all cultures. • The whale had many appearances in myth, folklore, literature, and art well before Melville used it as a central symbol in Moby-Dick. • Perhaps the most famous is the Biblical tale in which Jonah is swallowed by a whale and then cast ashore. • Because the whale is the largest of all animals, its image evokes fear and awe, as well as a sense of the power of nature. • In Moby-Dick, Melville used these archetypal associations to create fiction of enduring power. Journal Writing Prompt •Do you think modern readers react with fear and awe to the image of a whale? Explain. •Does this illustration seem like a realistic rendering of an actual situation? Explain. Literary Analysis 1. What does the wind symbolize to Ahab? 2. What symbolic meaning do you find in the comparison between Ahab and the mast? 3. What symbolic meaning is suggested by the description of the whale’s behavior as he breaks the water’s surface? 4. What symbolic connection between his own body and the boat does Ahab seem to feel? 5. What is symbolized by the red flag streaming out from Tashtego?