A running theme of That Which Maddens and Torments is the insanity of obsession and there is probably no better model of that than Moby Dick. I put a number of references to that great work in story. How many can you find?
I’ll give you the first one: The title of the book comes directly from a description of Captain Ahab:
The White Whale swam before him as the monomaniac incarnation of all those malicious agencies which some deep men feel eating in them, till they are left living on with half a heart and half a lung. … All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby-Dick. He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.
Hermann Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 41