Ch 1: Moby-Dick Historical & Literary Context

About This Chapter

Work through this chapter at your own pace to review the literary and historical context of ''Moby-Dick.'' These short literature lessons and quizzes are designed to help you improve your understanding of the novel for exams, homework assignments, essays and more.

Who's It For?

Anyone who needs help understanding the historical and literary context of Moby-Dick will benefit from the lessons in this chapter. There is no faster or easier way to study the author, genre, publication and critical reception of the novel. Among those who would benefit are:

  • Students who want to learn a broad topic in a short amount of time
  • Students who are looking for easy ways to identify the most important information on the topic
  • Students who have fallen behind in understanding the book's context
  • Students who prefer multiple ways of learning about literature (visual or auditory)
  • Students who have missed class time and need to catch up
  • Students who have limited time to study for an upcoming exam

How It Works:

  • Complete each lesson in the chapter to review all key topics.
  • Refer to the lesson to reinforce your learning.
  • Test your understanding of each lesson with a short quiz.
  • Complete your review with the Moby-Dick Historical & Literary Context chapter exam.

Why It Works:

  • Study Efficiently: The lessons in this chapter cover only information you need to know.
  • Retain What You Learn: Engaging instruction and real-life examples make topics easy to grasp.
  • Be Ready on Test Day: Take the Moby-Dick Historical & Literary Context chapter exam to make sure you're prepared.
  • Get Extra Support: Ask our subject-matter experts any literature question. They're here to help!
  • Study With Flexibility: View lessons on any web-ready device.

Students Will Review:

This chapter summarizes the material students need to know about the context of Moby-Dick for a standard literature course. Topics covered include:

  • Author Herman Melville's life, work and writing style
  • The novel's connection to the real-life Essex whaleship
  • The initial publication and critical reception of Moby-Dick
  • Adaptations of the novel
  • The title's meaning
  • The genre of Moby-Dick
  • Moby-Dick vocabulary

9 Lessons in Chapter 1: Moby-Dick Historical & Literary Context
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Herman Melville: Biography, Works & Style

1. Herman Melville: Biography, Works & Style

Like many great people, Herman Melville was misunderstood during his time. Watch this video to find out why the author of the famous novel 'Moby Dick' died almost as a complete unknown.

Herman Melville: Moby-Dick Summary and Analysis

2. Herman Melville: Moby-Dick Summary and Analysis

''Moby Dick'' is not just a boring story about a whale. Its popularity is still strong today (guess what major coffee chain takes its name from the story) thanks to Herman Melville's raunchy jokes about sperm whales. Oh, the fact it's a great story about evil and revenge doesn't hurt either.

Is Moby-Dick Based on a True Story?

3. Is Moby-Dick Based on a True Story?

What parts of ''Moby-Dick'' may have been inspired by real-life events? In this lesson, you'll learn more about some of Herman Melville's motivations behind his epic novel, ''Moby-Dick.''

Moby-Dick & The True Story of the Essex Whaleship

4. Moby-Dick & The True Story of the Essex Whaleship

This lesson goes over the incredible true story behind part of the legend of Moby-Dick. You'll learn whether a whale can truly sink a whaleship and an incredible story of survival.

Moby-Dick's Publication & Critical Reception

5. Moby-Dick's Publication & Critical Reception

In this lesson we will explore the critical literary reception of Herman Melville's 'Moby-Dick' (1851). What did contemporary critics and readers think of the book? Then, we will look at why the book has become such an important example of modern American literature.

Moby-Dick Adaptations

6. Moby-Dick Adaptations

In this lesson, we will explore adaptations of 'Moby-Dick' for the stage and screen. If you forget about the scurvy, nautical slang, and seamen, the novel's themes adapt flexibly to all sorts of situations. We will examine science fiction and meta-theater versions, as well as other literal adaptations.

Moby-Dick Book Genre

7. Moby-Dick Book Genre

What do you get when you combine an adventure, a thriller and a tragedy? ''Moby-Dick,'' of course! In this lesson, you'll learn more about the myriad genres of Herman Melville's timeless tale of Captain Ahab and the whale.

Meaning of the Title Moby Dick

8. Meaning of the Title Moby Dick

The significance of Melville's title, ''Moby Dick,'' has historical and thematic implications. In this lesson, you'll learn more about what the name means and some possible reasons why Melville chose this title.

Moby-Dick Vocabulary Words & Definitions

9. Moby-Dick Vocabulary Words & Definitions

In this lesson, we will define and find examples of some of the vocabulary terms that may be unfamiliar to some readers of Herman Melville's ''Moby-Dick''.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
Not Taken
Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
Not Taken

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.