The setting of Moby-Dick is critical to the story, and fits the time period the story takes place in very well. Most of the book takes place on various oceans, such as the Atlantic, the Indian, and the Pacific, in the early to mid 1800's. However, a good deal of the first part of the novel takes place in New England inside and around Nantucket. .
A. Some evidence of this story taking place in this time period can be conveyed through examples from the book. For example, in the seventh chapter entitled "The Chapel", the book shows specific dates in the form of plaques that are dedicated to the lives of men who have perished at sea. These plaques site specific dates such as November 1st, 1836, December 31st, 1839, and August 3rd 1833. The fact that these dated plaques represent dead men insinuates the story takes place at a later date. Also, the three-year whaling voyage that Ishmael eventually sets out on leaves on Christmas. This not only says that the time of departure was during the cold of winter, but also further supports the idea that Melville was representing his search for faith when he wrote Moby-Dick.
The place is also a factor to consider when discussing setting. There are many instances where Melville specifically states that they are near the cities of New Bedford and Nantucket. Also, the foods that they eat suggest that they are in a New England type atmosphere. Furthermore, he gives a lot of information about local ports as well as people, all of which point back to a New England origin. All these facts and bits of information allow the reader to gain a better idea of the time and place the story takes place in.
B. The setting of this novel has a great influence on the story itself. For instance, the sea-going atmosphere of the port town Ishmael stays in before the voyage conveys many messages and is very symbolic of the rest of the story. In the Spouter Inn, the hotel he stays at before the voyage, you can pick up on many subliminal messages.