- Acceptable Targets: Established albinos as one of them.
- Accidental Innuendo: It was noted even at the time it was published that some of the symbolism and word choices were a bit suggestive, which Melville apparently didn't notice until later pointed out to him.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: Captain Ahab -- revenge-obsessed madman or Tragic Hero or Both.
- Crowning Moment of Awesome: Queequeg manages to harpoon an oil slick.
- Ho Yay:
- Ishmael and Queequeg. They're even "married".
- The most egregious examples of this appear in the chapter called "A Squeeze of the Hand", which is about the delights of immersing one's hands in sperm whale oil and kneading it to keep it liquid.
"Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness."
- Far, far more egregious are the detailed descriptions of Ishmael's and Queequeg's sleeping arrangements:
Upon waking next morning about daylight, I found Queequeg's arm thrown over me in the most loving and affectionate manner. You had almost thought I had been his wife.
- Captain Ahab and Starbuck had a bit of this going on. Mixed with Foe Yay, since it's Starbuck who intended to shoot sleeping Ahab a little earlier.
“Starbuck, of late I’ve felt strangely moved to thee; ever since that hour we both saw—thou know’st what, in one another’s eyes".
- It Was His Sled: The ending.
- Mainstream Obscurity: Moby was a whale hunter. Everyone knows that. Not so many people have read the books.
- The Scrappy: Ishmael in the 2011 version
- Values Dissonance: Whether or not you approve of whaling, it is more controversial today than it was when Moby Dick was published, what with environmentalism and concern for endangered species.
- The story does explicitly discuss whether Man could hunt whales to extinction. Already their numbers are diminishing, but the author's opinion is that they'll avoid Man by swimming North to the icy oceans, and so will always be able to evade extermination. It's an opinion based on flawed biology; given better science it could have gone the other way. Even so, Melville gives consideration to it.
- Vindicated by History: This work in particular took several decades to attain the critical status it enjoys today.
- In the Reader's Digest: World's Best Reading edition, Thomas Fleming states in the Afterword that critics scoffed at the idea of someone going as far as Ahab did, and everyone around simply obeying...until they lived through World War I.