Melville's conception of fate



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Thesis Statement: An active force in the universe, Fate, according to Melville, is predestined, inexorable, and immutable-a finished fabric resulting from the interweaving of the strands of chance, free will, and necessity. Following the success of Typee and Omoo, Herman Melville, concerned that he might be forever remembered as the writer of South Sea Island adventure stories, launched out into the inscrutable seas of philosophical inquiry. The three books which resulted were Mardi, Moby Dick and Pierre. Deeply integrated into these books and his short prose masterpiece of forty years later, Billy Budd, is Melville's philosophy concerning man's power to control his fate as an individual in the world. Although critics have discussed fate in connection with Melville's more famous characters, his underlying philosophy has been all but ignored. Yet Melville not only applied his philosophy to the characters he created but he also clarified this philosophy in his writings. The purpose of this thesis is to explain Melville's philosophy of fate and to illustrate his application of this philosophy in Mardi, Moby Dick, Pierre, and Billy Budd. [...]