Benito Cereno Study Guide

Benito Cereno Study Guide

Original title:
Benito Cereno

“Benito Cereno” is a thrilling novel about the events on the fictional Spanish slave ship. It is a part of Herman Melville’s book “The Piazza Tales” and is considered one of the brightest jewels of this book. One of the main features of it is the constant tension and suspect that our main character, the captain of the ship passing by, feels on San Dominick. The slave ship miraculously survived the dire storm and the disease, the crew (and also the slaves who are now the majority on the ship) needs help and the captain agrees to share his supplies with the people in distress.

Everything looks peaceful and quiet, Benito Cereno - the captain of San Dominick - and his domestic slave Bobo gladly welcome the captain on board. They are very grateful for help, but there is something odd in Cereno’s behaviour. The story of the ship’s misfortunes obviously lacks details and it seems that Benito Cereno is afraid to tell the rest. The captain is facing the choice: to get himself involved into the investigation and endanger his own crew, or leave San Dominick to her mysterious fate. But he stays on the deck of the ship for too long and his hesitation is resolved with a plea from one of the crew members.

Despite the novel tells us a story of an imaginary ship, there is a serious historical research behind it. The fate of San Dominick isn’t unique. The author brilliantly combined some of the horrible events that happened on the ships of that time and vividly depicted it from the points of view of the participants. The unreliable, even deceiving narrator adds an extra tension to the story to the point when we can’t understand if it is an adventure story or a mystical, supernatural horror.

New Essays

Benito Cereno – Reader Response Criticism Essay

Most readers of Benito Cereno will be surprised when the African confederacy is eventually revealed. Although Melville begins the novelette with baleful imagination. the text is designed to take the reader off from the true events of the San Dominick. The point of position of Benito Cereno is the...

Evil in Benito Cereno

Both good and evil lie in human nature. Sometimes evil seems to be good while looking from different perspective, and vice versa. This contrasting relationship between good and evil governs the whole plot of Herman Melville’s novella Benito Cereno. Even Melville portrays atmosphere...

Benito Cereno Quotes with Page Number

“But the past is passed; why moralize upon it? Forget it. See, yon bright son has forgotten it all, and the blue sea, and the blue sky; these have turned over new leaves.Because they have no memory . . . because they are not human.” — Page 113 — “This slavery breeds ugly passions in man.” — —...

Benito Cereno Summary Of Major Themes

Benito Cereno Summary Of Major Themes The major theme of Benito Cereno is good vs. evil. Captain Delano, who offered unsolicited aid to the floundering San Dominick, is the picture of blind kindness. The African slaves, who rebel, seize the ship, and demand to sail back to Africa, are the picture...

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