January 29, 2007

Hola Benito!

"The ship seems unreal; these strange costumes, gestures, and faces, but a shadowy tableau just emerged from the deep, which directly must receive back what it gave." (491)

If something seems too good to be true (or too strange), it probably is. When writing, every word an author puts has a reason- whether to move a story along, add description, or to add an important plot point. Therefore, when pages and pages of text are used to describe the "strange"ness of the boat, you'd better believe it was done for a reason.

Herman Melville's "Benito Cereno" employs so much effort to the description of the boat that the reader simply has to think "What the heck is this all about? It must mean something!" And, what do you know, it does! As Karissa touched on in her blog entry, the story seems consumed with darkness and troublesome images, which give insight into the turmoil of the story to come. It's a type of foreshadowing- Melville didn't create a shadowy ship just to fill up space. Characters are not always the only element in a story that can create a mood or theme. Often, the setting in which it occurs is just as important to understanding of a story or novel...would we have gotten the same idea if the story took place on a nice, sunny, well-kept ship?

Melville, ''Benito Cereno'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by VanessaKolberg at January 29, 2007 7:57 PM | TrackBack

Foreshadow! There is that word again. As I mentioned in my blog entry about this and then later my paper for this week, I could not believe the amount of foreshadowing that occured throughout the story. There were times when I just wanted to jump into the story and scream at Delano for staying on that ship. If I were him I would have just let myself fall into the sea when that railing broke on the balcony.

Anyway I got away from what I really wanted to point out. I think that you make an excellent point about the effort put into the description of everything in his story. As I said in my entry - it is the descriptions that help to create that foreshadowing feeling. I also think that Melville needs someone to clap in on the back for being able to stay awake to write all that description. I do have to say that I found it exhausting to decode all of the descriptions and wonder if he found it exhausting to write. Hmmmm....?

Posted by: Tiffany at January 31, 2007 8:53 PM
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