Description: An understanding of the influence of Shakespeare on the structure and language of Moby-Dick is important because the plays of Shakespeare gave Melville a sudden insight into the significance of form and because his absorption of Shakespearean rhetoric enabled him to solve a serious artistic problem. In Moby-Dick Melville wished to write a work of symbolic fiction which would have both epic scope and tragic depth, but his difficulty lay in finding a structural and stylistic method which would provide the amplitude necessary to epic and at the same time could achieve the compression and verbal economy necessary to tragedy. He solved this problem by learning from Shakespeare to create a multi-layered dramatic structure and to use a dramatic language which becomes one layer of that structure. In Shakespeare's greatest plays there is a virtual fusion of form and meaning, and it is this fusion which, in its greatest moments, the language of Moby-Dick achieves.
Date: May 1981
Creator: Smith, Marion L. (Marion Lynch), 1937-
Partner: UNT Libraries