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Video Information and Comprehension Questions

From Fact to Fiction: Moby Dick

The following questions appear onscreen in the video. Feel free to integrate them into your lesson plan as needed.


 
Part I
Questions to consider before watching the video:
  • Moby Dickis a literary masterpiece. Discuss what you know about this work.
  • Many consider it an allegory, or a tale that uses symbolic representation. As you watch the program, note the use of symbolism in Moby Dick.
Questions to consider after watching the video:
  • Discuss the significance of the whaling industry in 19th-century America and as a setting for Moby Dick. What were the economic and social opportunities available on whaling vessels?
  • Why did one critic say that the Pequod represented "a ship of state"?
Suggested activity
Moby Dick was an unsuccessful novel until Hollywood films made it popular. AdaptMoby Dickfor a modern audience. Instead of the whaling industry, choose an appropriate symbol for modern times.
 
 
Part II
Questions to consider before watching the video:
  • What works of fiction have you read that are based on actual events? Consider the ways in which writers incorporate details of history into their stories.
  • As you learn about the fate of the whaling ship Essex, look for details that appear in Melville's novel Moby Dick.
Questions to consider after watching the video:
  • What themes does Melville explore inMoby Dick?
  • Was he writing primarily to teach about a historic event, to educate the reader about the whaling industry, or to show something about the human condition?
Suggested activity
Write a series of journal entries that chronicle life on board the Essex from the perspective of Thomas Nickerson, the cabin boy, or Owen Chase, the first mate.