Doing so, grants the number a comprehensive presence.
In the very beginning of the novel, the number three is mentioned as Ishmael attempts to make sense of the painting in the Spouter-Inn: “But what most puzzled and confounded you was a long, limber, portentous, black mass of something hovering in the centre of the picture over three blue, dim, perpendicular lines floating in a nameless yeast.
The number three bridges the gaps of dogma and belief in these examples because it allows a person from any of these cultures to trace similarities in their belief systems.
Stepping away from the narrowed scope of human existence and towards the structure of the universe, these belief systems all share the concept of three planes of existence.
It has already been noted that the number makes hundreds of appearances in the novel and that this abundance suggests its importance, but what implies that the use is more than unintentional repetition is its application beyond a simple quantity of items.
The number is not used only where any random number could be chosen, but transcends quantity and emerges as central to plot and character.
Mythology is one system used to make sense of the human condition, but portrayals of existence in time and space compacted into sets of three can be seen in other belief systems as well.
This framework of mortal existence and time transposes creed and culture and is used in other cultures, like: Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity.
From the trinity of God, and Christ’s resurrection on the third day, to the three fates and Ahab’s utilization of pagan rituals, many thematic elements in the novel reveal themselves to be connected by the use of the number.
Ahab’s character is inherently linked to Christianity through the novel and, yet, he utilizes other belief systems in his pursuit of the whale.