Let’s Go A-Whalin’: Who’s Who in "Moby Dick"


by 
 | Jan 09, 2017
Moby Dick

Raymond Fox, Micah Figueroa, Anthony Fleming III, Christoper Donahue, Javen Ulambayar and Jamie Abelson in Moby Dick.

Three words open Moby Dick: “Call me…Ishmael.” That’s the name the narrator gives himself in classic Herman Melville story. He’s one of many characters who inhabit the whaling world of the tale. Which novel characters did adaptor and director David Catlin bring from page to stage for the Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of Moby Dick? Here's an overview.

Ishmael

​Jamie Abelson as Ishmael.

Ishmael: In the Old Testament, Ishmael is the biblical son of Abraham—and a wanderer and outcast. Like Melville, Ishmael in Moby Dick is an adventurer, has been a schoolteacher and served on a merchant ship. He loves the sea and, unlike Captain Ahab, sees sheer majesty in the White Whale. The voyage on the Pequod is his first whaling voyage. He’s good-natured, intelligent and a keen observer. He puts the crew and action into perspective. His good friend is Queequeg the harpooner. 

Queequeg

​Anthony Fleming III as Queequeg.

Queequeg: Once a prince from the South Seas, Queequeg stowed away on a whaling ship to look for adventure. He’s noble, courteous, brave and generous; and, through their friendship, he shows Ishmael that race has no bearing on a man’s character (even though his face is tattooed and he peddles shrunken heads while in port). Queequeg is best harpooner on the Pequod, and given the highest share of the profit

Captain Ahab

​Christopher Donahue as Ahab.

Ahab: Captain of the Pequod, he is, says director David Catlin, “wounded and vengeful with a fateful purpose: to slay the impossible beast—evil itself.” He shares a name with the biblical King Ahab, husband of Jezebel. An earlier encounter with the White Whale resulted in Captain Ahab losing his leg. He uses a mix of charisma and terror to recruit his crew, but he frightens them with his relentless pursuit of Moby Dick.  He has been a sailor for nearly 40 years, only spending three years on dry land. 

Starbuck

​Walter Owen Briggs as Starbuck.

Starbuck: The first mate of the Pequod is Captain Ahab’s main opponent. Starbuck is a reverent and virtuous Quaker from Nantucket who is steadfast, hardy and has good common sense; he doesn’t understand Ahab’s mad quest for Moby Dick and calls it unholy. Starbuck questions Ahab’s judgment, first in private and later in public, and tries to get the captain to turn back to port and give up pursuit of the whale. Starbuck’s relationship with Ahab runs an emotional gamut: from pity to fear to contempt.

Moby Dick: Captain Ahab considers the White Whale to be the incarnation of evil and his fated nemesis. One hundred feet long, almost as large as the Pequod itself, the whale has been terrorizing whalers for years. Anyone tangling with him is injured—like Ahab was—or dies or loses a ship. The whale has a huge hump, deformed jaw, a wrinkled brow and is aggressive. He seems unable to be killed. 

Father Mapple: A former harpooner and now the preacher in the New Bedford Whaleman’s Chapel, Father Mapple delivers a sermon on Jonah and the whale to address the whalemen’s lives. He’s older, educated and a bit eccentric, but is known for his sincerity.  

Dr. Bunger: The surgeon on the Samuel Enderby, Bunger warns Captain Ahab that Moby Dick would be best left alone. He wonders about Ahab's sanity.

Stubb: The second mate of the Pequod, Stubb is easy-going, competent and good-humored, which makes him popular with the crew. He laughs off danger and Ahab’s quest to kill the White Whale. 

Captain Boomer: The captain of the English whaling ship the Samuel Enderby, Boomer is jovial, despite losing his arm to the White whale. Boomer is glad to have escaped the attack with his life, unlike the seething revenge that drives Captain Ahab. 

Captain Gardiner The captain of the Rachel, the ship that finds Ishmael after the sinking of the Pequod.

There are other characters onstage in Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of Moby Dick.  Read more in the program.

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