Is Moby Dick Hard To Read?

There exist different books out there, all in different genres.

Some books are harder to read than others which is a statement I often times point out in many of my blog posts.

This post will focus on a book called moby dick and whether or not it is hard to read or not…..but before I dive into that, let me provide a brief background of the novel.

Moby dick sometimes referred to as “The Whale” is novel by Herman Melville that was published in 1851. It is about a sailer that goes toe-to-toe with a white Whale in his quest for revenge against it for biting off his leg in a previous voyage.

Now that we have a brief introduction let’s get into the burning question that most people have about this book….

“is moby dick hard to read?”

It depends on the reader. Moby dick is certainly not an easy novel to read and comprehend. It is a challenging book that most people will find very difficult to get through….in addition, most consider Moby dick a book that does not conform to the reader because it is the reader that has to stretch to understand it.

However, it is still considered a masterpiece and has been widely read by many people.

Why Moby Dick is hard to read

Moby dick is a long book

One of the reasons why most people consider moby dick a hard book to read is that it is a long book. It has over 800 pages which would pretty much scare any newbie readers.

It’s length is not even the hardest part but it is something to be considered because the dynamics of moby dick are not easy to understand.

Which is a problem because reading a book that long which you barely understand is an uphill battle.

However, even with that said, moby dick is still one of the greatest books ever written. Definitely readable for a new reader… provided they get some help from the Internet and solicit some help from people that have read it completely.


Another reason why most people consider moby dick a hard book to read is because of the depth of the language that Merville uses.

Most people often say the vocabulary is archaic plus the whaling terminology can be off putting for most people that are not familiar with it or whaling in particular.

Granted the vocabulary is old and dated but most appreciate the effort behind the words and compare it to that of Shakespeares.

The book is certainly readable if you take the time to do it and possibly get through any big words that may seem hard.

Chapter arrangement

Another reason why people find it hard to get through reading moby dick is because of its odd chapter arrangement.

The chapter arrangement in this book is pretty much odd and people often call it careful disorder…

This makes comprehension pretty difficult because not only does the reader have to deal with the length of the book… they also have to deal with its deep vocabulary.

Merville basically structures the book in such a way that chapters effortlessly range from simply story telling to different whale species to philosophy.

With an odd chapter arrangement like this, most readers usually also face the problem of getting to an understanding of how they all fit together…

Knowledge prerequisites

Moby dick is not a book that most get through because it is very easy to get confused if you approach the book without packing some knowledge in certain areas.

To read and comprehend Moby Dick well, you need a good understanding of the Bible, western civilization and some philosophy from plato…

To say the least, not many possess this knowledge because as we all well know people don’t read that much. Even when they do, very few venture into history, religion and philosophy..

This is mainly because of the depth of ideas expressed in such works.

However, certain people have been able to read this book without this knowledge…. which means that anyone willing to try to read this book can make it through just fine.


Many reviews of Moby Dick consist of many different theories and interpretations for it.

These various interpretations stem from the fact that the book utilizes a heavy use of Metaphors that leave it all up to the reader to figure out…

Most can of course sense why some Metaphors are used and the possible things that they represent…but even with this, it is not an easy book to digest.

This is one of the reasons why most people haven’t actually sat down to read it…. many have settled with the idea of the book just being “one of best books ever written”.

No proper meanings found

Due to the fact that the book is very oddly structured most people find it quite difficult to pin or fit things together….

This makes it very difficult to comprehend because the moment you develop a theory of what the book and its contents mean…. you have to cross reference your theory with the writing itself and see just how well your theory redefines the whole book.

As you well know, this book has over 800 pages… every new theory you think of has to be matched with everything to try and make sense of it…

This is no easy task.

Depth (things are not what they seem)

We can all agree that we’ve already established that this book is not an easy read…

When you read and try to understand everything at face value you basically miss the entire point of the book…

This makes it a hard book to read because it’s like reading a book whose puzzle is not solved through words alone…

Which is why most people that have read this book usually emphasise that its a book you have to spend time with…

This way you can get enlightened on one of your encounters with it.

Symbol interpretation

Heavy use of symbols in this book is another reason why most people face difficulties decoding it and actually getting to understand what is being said…

Most people that have read this book say Herman Merville went out of his way to be vague which leaves most readers in utter confusion…

However, this is a matter of perception, every symbol has its place in this book and you have to understand each object to try and gauge and map out the authors thought process as well as his overall intention with this work.

Gross misrepresentation of characters

There are so many characters in this book, the starting character is Ishmael…. we are then exposed to various other characters through out the chapters…

Most people only make assumptions as to whom the characters actually are or whether they’re actually people or simply place holders for much larger grand scheme…

With a book like this you can easily tell that there is lot to unpack and you obviously have to go at this book at different levels of analysis…

There exist a lot of theories about what the Whale represents and this is enough indication that this is not an easy read at all.