This story is very reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Sphinx”, which I also found to be a letdown. The buildup here is great. There’s a little bit of humor, a lot of mystery that grows and grows, and several ways the story could go. There were points where it was dry, but that was more a reflection of the writing in that time period, and it was only in small spots.
In the end, it really fell flat and felt more like Melville was trying to pull off something shocking that didn’t work at all because it wasn’t powerful enough and didn’t really add up properly. There are a lot of little pieces of the story that I expected to all add up to something, but none of it added up to anything, which was disappointing. While I enjoyed reading most of it, when something is this much of a letdown, I can’t rate it as well as I would liked to have. I would have rated it at least a 4 if the end had had any substance at all.