The Ship of State

  • Brian R. Pellar
Part of the American Literature Readings in the 21st Century book series (ALTC)


In this chapter” Pellar discusses the Compromise of 1850 and how Melville symbolized the Pequod as the popular “Ship of State” motif. Both Henry Clay and Daniel Webster used the Ship of State motif during the debates on the Senate floor, as it was an ideal metaphor to solidify the hearts and minds of a divided country in one simple and yet coalescent image. Pellar then provides a history of the term and discusses how Melville wove the image of the Ship of State into the plot of Moby-Dick. Pellar also discusses how Melville secretly correlated the birth of Ahab, the Captain of the Pequod/Ship of State, with the birth of America in September 1783.


State Motif Presidential Election Winter Solstice Imperial Eagle British Troop 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian R. Pellar
    • 1
  1. 1.BostonUSA

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