In this Brobdingnagian excerpt, Ishmael constantly emphasizes the depiction of men and how democracy affects it. This can be seen when Ishmael “discovers” evidence of God in even the “meanest mariners” and reveals that he often times ignores people`s flaws because of their “democratic dignity.” Moreover, this idea of depiction and democracy can also be seen when he depicts Starbuck and his personality. While he describes Starbuck, he reassures the readers that nothing “devastating” will really occur to Starbuck because it would ruin the dignity of man in some aspect.
However, if Ishmael was compelled to venerate men, who were “lowly”, it would be a result of the democratic equality of men. Later on in the excerpt, Ishmael will use many historical figures or characters as examples (Cervantes, Andrew Jackson, John Bunyan) to illustrate the glorification of these men as a result of the democratic equality of men.5) Cleverly named “Knights and Squires”, chapter 26 of this treacherous book introduces the readers to a very intriguing and unique individual on the ship: Starbuck.
Starbuck, one of the mates on the Pequod, is depicted as someone who is strong, calm in peril, and prudent. Because of his superstitious and religious character, he is also portrayed as someone who naturally has control over their fate and is courageous all the time.
However, when Ishmael states that “Nor can piety itself, at such a shameful sight, completely stifle her upbraidings against the permitting stars”, he reveals the sad reality that neither Starbuck`s religious devotion nor his bravery will stop the permitting stars, which control Earthly occurrences and events, from allowing disasters to occur.
This provides the readers with a small glimpse of Starbuck`s fate and potentially implies that either a whale (or perhaps Moby Dick specifically) ends up severely injuring Starbuck either mentally or physically. This sentence also encapsulates the idea of an almost non-existent relationship between fate and nobility,as mentioned earlier.
Although being cautious and courageous does help reduce the possibility of something bad from occurring, it does not ensure that there will be a change in fate. Take knights, for example. Even though, the knights have strategic plans that ensure their lords are protected, there is still a chance that their efforts fail and their lords are attacked.