© 2017

Moby-Dick and Melville’s Anti-Slavery Allegory


Part of the American Literature Readings in the 21st Century book series (ALTC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Brian R. Pellar
    Pages 1-4
  3. Brian R. Pellar
    Pages 5-25
  4. Brian R. Pellar
    Pages 27-44
  5. Brian R. Pellar
    Pages 45-49
  6. Brian R. Pellar
    Pages 51-71
  7. Brian R. Pellar
    Pages 73-89
  8. Brian R. Pellar
    Pages 91-105
  9. Brian R. Pellar
    Pages 107-124
  10. Brian R. Pellar
    Pages 125-141
  11. Brian R. Pellar
    Pages 143-148
  12. Brian R. Pellar
    Pages 149-167
  13. Brian R. Pellar
    Pages 169-190
  14. Brian R. Pellar
    Pages 191-201
  15. Brian R. Pellar
    Pages 203-205
  16. Back Matter
    Pages 207-235

About this book


This book unfurls and examines the anti-slavery allegory at the subtextual core of Herman Melville’s famed novel, Moby-Dick. Brian Pellar points to symbols and allusions in the novel such as the albinism of the famed whale, the “Ship of State” motif, Calhoun’s “cords,” the equator, Jonah, Narcissus, St. Paul, and Thomas Hobbe’s Leviathan. The work contextualizes these devices within a historical discussion of the Compromise of 1850 and subsequently strengthened Fugitive Slave Laws. Drawing on a rich variety of sources such as unpublished papers, letters, reviews, and family memorabilia, the chapters discuss the significance of these laws within Melville’s own life.  

After clarifying the hidden allegory interconnecting black slaves and black whales, this book carefully sheds the layers of a hidden meaning that will be too convincing to ignore for future readings: Moby-Dick is ultimately a novel that is intimately connected with questions of race, slavery, and the state. 


Moby-Dick Fugitive Slave Act Compromise of 1850 Slavery Allegory Herman Melville Race

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.BostonUSA

About the authors

Brian Pellar has authored four papers in Sino-Platonic Papers, a scholarly monographic series. After serving four years in the US Navy, he studied art, biology, and psychology, and ultimately English. He currently lives in Boston, MA.

Bibliographic information