Рефераты. American Literature books summary

she was spoiled terribly by her father, and that spoiling made her a bad

wife. Tyrone takes a drink, but seeing the bottle has been watered down by

his sons trying to fool him into believing that they haven't been drinking,

he goes to get a new one. Mary again calls him stingy, but she excuses him

to Edmund, telling of how he was abandoned by his father and forced to work

at age 10.

Edmund then tells Mary that he has tuberculosis, and Mary immediately

begins discrediting Doc Hardy. She will not believe it, and she does not

want Edmund to go to a sanatorium. She thinks that Edmund is just blowing

things out of the water in an effort to get more attention. Edmund reminds

Mary that her own father died of tuberculosis, then comments that it is

difficult having a "dope fiend for a mother." He exits, laving Mary alone.

She says aloud that she needs more morphine, and she admits that she

secretly hopes to overdose and die, but she cannot intentionally do so

because the Virgin could never forgive suicide. Tyrone reenters with more

whiskey, noting that Jamie could not pick the lock to his liquor cabinet.

Mary suddenly bursts out that Edmund will die, but Tyrone assures her that

he will be cured in six months. Mary thinks that Edmund hated her because

she is a dope fiend. Tyrone comforts her, and Mary once again blames

herself for giving birth. Cathleen announces dinner. Mary says she is not

hungry and goes to bed. Tyrone knows that she is really going for more


Act IV, Part One

The time is midnight, and as the act begins a foghorn is heard in the

distance. Tyrone sits alone in the living room, drinking and playing

solitaire. He is drunk, and soon Edmund enters, also drunk. They argue

about keeping the lights on and the cost of the electricity. Tyrone acts

stubborn, and Edmund accuses him of believing whatever he wants, including

that Shakespeare and Wellington were Irish Catholics. Tyrone grows angry

and threatens to beat Edmund, then retracts. He gives up and turns on all

the lights. They note that Jamie is still out at the whorehouse. Edmund has

just returned from a long walk in the cold night air even though doing so

was a bad idea for his health. He states, "To hell with sense! We're all

crazy." Edmund tells Tyrone that he loves being in the fog because it lets

him live in another world. He pessimistically parodies Shakespeare, saying,

"We are such stuff as manure is made of, so let's drink up and forget it.

That's more my idea." He quotes then from the French author Baudelaire,

saying "be always drunken." He then quotes from Baudelaire about the

debauchery in the city in reference to Jamie. Tyrone criticizes all of

Edmund's literary tastes; he thinks Edmund should leave literature for God.

Tyrone thinks that only Shakespeare avoids being an evil, morbid


They hear Mary upstairs moving around, and they discuss her father,

who died of tuberculosis. Edmund notes that they only seem to discuss

unhappy topics together. They begin to play cards, and Tyrone tells Jamie

that even though Mary dreamed of being a nun and a pianist, she did not

have the willpower for the former or the skill for the latter; Mary deludes

herself. They hear her come downstairs but pretend not to notice. Edmund

then blames Tyrone for Mary's morphine addiction because Tyrone hired a

cheap quack. Edmund then says he hates Tyrone and blames him for Mary's

continued addiction because Tyrone never gave her a home. Tyrone defends

himself, but then Edmund says that he thinks that Tyrone believes he will

die from consumption. Edmund tells Tyrone that he, Tyrone, spends money

only on land, not on his sons. Edmund states that he will die before he

will go to a cheap sanatorium.

Tyrone brushes off his comments, saying that Edmund is drunk. But

Tyrone promises to send Edmund anywhere he wants to make him better,

"within reason." Tyrone tells Edmund that he is prudent with money because

he has always had to work for everything he has. Edmund and Jamie, by

contrast, have been able to take everything in life for granted. Tyrone

thinks that neither of his sons knows the value of money. Edmund, delving

into his deeper emotions, reminds Tyrone that he, Edmund, once tried to

commit suicide. Tyrone says that Edmund was merely drunk at the time, but

Edmund insists he was aware of his actions. Tyrone then begins to cry

lightly, telling of his destitute childhood and his terrible father. Tyrone

and Edmund, making amends, agree together on a sanatorium for Edmund, a

place that is more expensive but substantially better. Tyrone then tells

Edmund of his great theatrical mistake that prevented him from becoming

widely famous: he sold out to one particular role, and was forever more

typecast, making it difficult for him to expand his horizons and find new

work. Tyrone says that he only ever really wanted to be an artist, but his

hopes were dashed when he sold out to brief commercial success. Edmund

begins laughing "at life. It's so damned crazy," thinking of his father as

an artist.

Edmund then tells some of his memories, all of which are related to

the sea. He reflects on moments when he felt dissolved into or lost in the

ocean. He thinks that there is truth and meaning in being lost at sea, and

he thinks he should have been born a "seagull or a fish."

Act IV, Part Two

Hearing Jamie approaching the house, Tyrone steps into the next room.

Jamie enters, drunk and slurring his speech. He drinks more, but he will

not let Edmund drink at first, for health reasons. Jamie complains about

Tyrone briefly, then learns of his agreement with Edmund. Jamie says that

he spent the evening at the whorehouse, where he paid for a fat whore whom

no one else was willing to take. Edmund attacks Jamie with a punch when

Jamie begins praising himself and berating others. Jamie thanks him

suddenly for straightening him out; he has been messed up by problems

related to Mary's addiction. He and Edmund both begin to cry as they think

about their mother. Jamie is also worried about Edmund, who may die from

consumption. Jamie says that he loves Edmund, and that in a sense he made

him what he is at present.

But Jamie also admits that he has been a bad influence, and he says

that he did it on purpose. Jamie admits that he has always been jealous of

Edmund, and he wanted Edmund to also fail. He set a bad example

intentionally and tried to bring Edmund down. He then warns Edmund, saying,

"I'll do my damnedest to make you fail," but then he admits, "You're all

I've got left." Jamie then passes out.

Tyrone then reenters, having heard all that Jamie said. Tyrone says

that he has been issuing the exact same warning to Edmund for many years.

Tyrone calls Jamie a "waste." Jamie wakes up suddenly and argues with

Tyrone. Jamie and Tyrone both pass out briefly until they are awoken by the

sound of Mary playing the piano in the next room. The sound stops, and Mary

appears. She is very pale and very clearly on a substantial dose of

morphine. Jamie begins to cry, and Tyrone angrily cries that he will throw

Jamie out of his house. Mary is hallucinating, thinking that she is back in

her childhood. She thinks that she is in a convent. In her hands, she is

holding her wedding gown, which she fished out of the attic earlier. She

does not hear anyone, and she moves like a sleepwalker. Edmund suddenly

tells Mary that he has consumption, but she tells him not to touch her

because she wants to be a nun. The three men all pour themselves more

alcohol, but before they can drink, Mary begins to speak. She tells them of

her talk with Mother Elizabeth, who told her that she should experience

life out of the convent before choosing to become a nun. Mary says that she

followed that advice, went home to her parents, met and fell in love with

James Tyrone, "and was so happy for a time." The boys sit motionless and

Tyrone stirs in his chair as the play ends.

Moby Dick


Herman Melville (1819-1891) was a popular writer of sea narratives before

he wrote Moby-Dick (1851). What was to become his best known novel, The

Whale; or Moby-Dick, received good reviews when it appeared in England, but

the first American edition, coming out a month later in New York, received

mixed reviews. It was not a financial success and bafied American critics

until the 20th century, when it began to be considered a classic.

Melville was not recognized as a genius in his time; his most famous works

today{Moby-Dick, short stories like "Benito Cereno," and Billy Budd{were

not widely read or heralded in the 19th century.

Melville's America was a tumultuous place. In the North, rapid

industrialization was changing social patterns and giving rise to new

wealth. In the South, the cotton interest was trying to hold onto the

system of black slavery.

America was stretching westward, and encountering Native American tribes,

as travel by train, road, sea, and canal become easier than before.

Politicians appealed to the masses as the idea of "democracy" (versus

republicanism) took hold. Nationalism was high in the early nineteenth

century, but as national interconnectedness became more feasible, the deep

divisions in society began to grow. Soon, sectionalism, racism, economic

self-interest, and bitter political struggle would culminate in the Civil


Against this backdrop, Melville sailed off on his first whaling voyage in

1841. This experience became the material for his first book, Typee (1846),

a narrative that capitalized on exotic titillation about natives in the

Marquesas Islands. Becoming well known for his earthy, rowdy stories of

faraway places, he quickly followed his initial success with Omoo (1847)

and Mardi (1849).

But after Mardi, Melville's writing career started to level off. Though

Melville had once thought he could be a professional writer, Moby-Dicks

poor reviews meant that Melville would never be able to support himself by

writing alone. Melville was always firmly middle-class, though his personas

in books always seemed working-class. He had a distinguished pedigree: some

of his ancestors were Scottish and Dutch settlers of New York who played

leading roles in the American Revolution and commercial development. But

Melville often felt like the "savage" in the family, which may have

explained why he was not afraid to tackle such risky topics as slave revolt

(in "Benito Cereno") or the life-sucking potential of offce jobs ("Bartleby

the Scrivener").

Throughout his life, Melville was an avid reader. Much of his information

for Moby-Dick comes from printed sources. The number of refer

ences to difierent texts (intertextuality) in Moby-Dick testifies to the

importance of books in Melville's life. In particular, he admired Nathaniel

Hawthorne, whom he befriended in 1850 and to whom Melville dedicated the

novel. Melville admired Hawthorne's willingness to dive to deep

psychological depths and gothic grimness, traits for which he would also be


The works of Shakespeare and stories in the Bible (especially the Old

Testament) also in uenced Moby-Dick. Moreover, Melville's novel was

certainly not the first book on whaling. Whaling narratives were extremely

popular in the 19th century. In particular, Melville relied on the

encyclopedic Natural History of the Sperm Whale by Thomas Beale and the

narrative Etchings of a Whaling Cruise by J. Ross Browne. He also used

information from a volume by William Scoresby, but mostly to ridicule

Scoresby's pompous inaccuracy. One final note: many editions of Moby-Dick

have been printed. Check your edition before using this guide, because

"abridged" or "edited" versions may be difierent.


Ishmael { Ishmael is the narrator of the story, but not really the center

of it. He has no experience with whaling when he signs on and he is often

comically extravagant in his storytelling. Ishmael bears the same name as a

famous castaway in the Bible.

Ahab { The egomaniacal captain of the whalingship Pequod; his leg was taken

off by Moby Dick, the white whale. He searches frantically for the whale,

seeking revenge, and forces his crew to join him in the pursuit.

Starbuck { This native of Nantucket is the first mate of the Pequod.

Starbuck questions his commander's judgment, first in private and later in


Queequeg { Starbuck's stellar harpooner and Ishmael's best friend, Queequeg

was once a prince from a South Sea island who wanted to have a worldly

adventure. Queequeg is a composite character, with an identity that is part

African, Polynesian, Islamic, Christian, and Native American.

Stubb { This native of Cape Cod is the second mate of the Pequod and always

has a bit of mischievous good humor.

Moby Dick { The great white sperm whale; an infamous and dangerous threat

to seamen like Ahab and his crew.

Tashtego { Stubb's harpooneer, Tashtego is a Gay Head Indian from Martha's


Flask { This native of Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard is the third mate of

the Pequod. Short and stocky, he has a confrontational attitude and no

reverence for anything.

Daggoo { Flask's harpooneer, Daggoo is a very big, dark-skinned, imperial-

looking man from Africa.

Pip { Either from Connecticut or Alabama (there is a discrepancy), Pip used

to play the tambourine and take care of the ship. After being left to oat

on the sea alone for a short period of time, he becomes mystically wise{or

possibly loses his mind.

Fedallah { Most of the crew doesn't know until the first whale chase that

Ahab has brought on board this strange "oriental" old man who is a Parsee

(Persian fire-worshipper). Fedallah has a very striking appearance: around

his head is a turban made from his own hair, and he wears a black Chinese

jacket and pants. Like Queequeg, Fedallah's character is also a composite

of Middle Eastern and East Asian traits.

Peleg { This well-to-do retired whaleman of Nantucket is one of the largest

owners of the Pequod who, with Captain Bildad, takes care of hiring the

crew. When the two are negotiating wages for Ishmael and Queequeg, Peleg

plays the generous one. He is a Quaker.

Bildad { Also a well-to-do Quaker ex-whaleman from Nantucket who owns a

large share of the Pequod, Bildad is (or pretends to be) crustier than

Peleg in negotiations over wages.

Father Mapple { The preacher in the New Bedford Whaleman's Chapel. He

delivers a sermon on Jonah and the whale.

Captain Boomer { Boomer is the jovial captain of the English whalingship

Samuel Enderby; his arm was taken off by Moby Dick



These prefatory sections establish the groundwork for a new book about

whaling. Melville quotes from a variety of sources, revered, famous, and

obscure, that may directly address whaling or only mention a whale in

passing. The quotations include short passages from the Bible, Shakespeare,

John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), other well-known poems,

dictionaries, whaling and travel narratives, histories, and songs. The

Etymology section, looking at the derivations of "whale," is compiled by a

"late consumptive usher to a grammar school," and the Extracts section, a

selection of short quotations describing whales or whaling, by a "sub-sub-


Melville's humor comes through in these sections, both in the way he pokes

fun at the "poor devil of a Sub-Sub" and mentions even the tiniest

reference to a whale in these literary works.

Chapters 1-9


The story begins with one of the most famous opening lines in literary

history: "Call me Ishmael." Whatever Ishmael's "real" name, his adopted

name signals his identification with the Biblical outcast from the Book of


He explains that he went to sea because he was feeling a "damp, drizzly

November in [his] soul" and wanted some worldly adventure. In the mood for

old-fashioned whaling, Ishmael heads to New Bedford, the current center of

whaling, to catch a ferry to Nantucket, the previous center of whaling.

After wandering through the black streets of New Bedford, he finally

stumbles upon The Spouter-Inn, owned by Peter Coffn. First passing by a

large, somewhat inscrutable oil painting and a collection of "monstrous

clubs and spears," Ishmael walks into a room filled with "a wild set of

mariners." Because the inn is nearly full, Ishmael learns that he will have

to share a room with "a dark complexioned" harpooner named Queequeg. At

first, Ishmael decides that he would rather sleep on a bench than share a

bed with some strange, possibly dangerous man. But, discovering the bench

to be too uncomfortable, he decides to put up with the unknown harpooner,

who, Coffn assures him, is perfectly fine because "he pays reg'lar." Still,

Ishmael is worried since Coffn tells him that the harpooner has recently

arrived from the South Sea and peddles shrunken heads. When the Queequeg

finally returns, the frightened Ishmael watches Queequeg from the bed,

noting with a little horror the harpooner's tattoos, tomahawk/pipe, and

dark-colored idol.

When Queequeg finally discovers Ishmael in his bed, he ourishes the

tomahawk as Ishmael shouts for the owner. After Coffn explains the

situation, they settle in for the night and, when they wake up, Queequeg's

arm is affectionately thrown over Ishmael. Ishmael is sorry for his

prejudices against the "cannibal," finding Queequeg quite civilized, and

they become fast, close friends.

The chapters called The Street, The Chapel, The Pulpit, and The Sermon

establish the atmosphere in which Ishmael sets out on his whaling mission.

Because of its maritime industry, New Bedford is a cosmopolitan town, full

of difierent sorts of people (Lascars, Malays, Feegeeans, Tongatabooans,

Yankees, and green Vermonters). In this town is the Whaleman's Chapel,

where the walls are inscribed with memorials to sailors lost at sea and the

pulpit is like a ship's bow. The preacher in this chapel, Father Mapple, is

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