Herman melville billy budd summary. Melville (Herman) Billy Budd Summary 2022-12-20
Herman melville billy budd summary Rating:
Herman Melville's "Billy Budd" is a story about a young sailor named Billy Budd who is falsely accused of inciting a mutiny on board the HMS Bellipotent. Billy is a kind and innocent man, who is admired by the crew for his good looks and friendly disposition. However, he is also naive and unaware of the scheming and manipulation that goes on around him.
The story takes place during the Napoleonic Wars, when the British navy is engaged in a struggle against the French. The HMS Bellipotent is a warship that is tasked with patrolling the seas and protecting British interests. Billy is impressed into service on the ship, and quickly becomes a favorite among the crew.
One of the main characters in the story is John Claggart, the ship's Master-at-Arms. Claggart is a cruel and vindictive man, who bears a grudge against Billy for no apparent reason. He falsely accuses Billy of inciting a mutiny, and brings him before the ship's captain, Captain Vere, for trial.
Captain Vere is a fair and just man, who is torn between his duty to uphold the law and his personal feelings for Billy. Despite his fondness for the young sailor, he is forced to pronounce him guilty and sentence him to death. Billy accepts his fate with dignity and grace, and is hanged for his supposed crimes.
The story of Billy Budd is a tragic one, as it highlights the inherent flaws in the legal system and the dangers of blindly following authority. It also serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of jealousy and envy, as Claggart's envy of Billy's popularity leads to his downfall. Overall, "Billy Budd" is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that explores themes of justice, duty, and loyalty.
Billy Budd, Sailor: Themes
In a decisive move, Vere calls a drumhead court consisting of the captain of the marines, the first lieutenant, and the sailing master. Billy is sentenced to be hanged and his final words reverberate through the final pages of the story like a haunting refrain: ''God bless Captain Vere! Melville made up the story, but the narrator lives in the same world as the characters Melville has made up. Captain Vere, an educated man who had never faced a situation such as this before, chose to kill Billy Budd. The Dansker likes Billy and tries to help him, but he ultimately sacrifices Billy to the claustrophobic, paranoid world of the ship, in which men are disconnected from their own consciences. They were highly honored by the large Puritan population, and these values helped them survive the beginning of the colonies. Soon after arriving on the man-of-war, Billy witnesses a flogging and resolves never to deserve such punishment. Through his corporals, he finds small ways of putting Billy on edge, criticizing every slight deviation from protocol and regulation.
The purser wonders aloud why Billy failed to convulse under the pressure of being hanged and chooses to attribute this unusual placidity to some sort of willpower within Billy. When the warship Bellipotent extracts the unassuming Billy from his former ship, the Rights-of-Man, the symbolism is relatively explicit: society is all-powerful, it compels men into participation in war, and in doing so it can readily dispense with the rights of the individual. There is a gay subtext within this novel: Some have suggested that the emphasis on Beauty contains homoerotic elements. The legal penalty for that crime is death. The narrator shows that most of the participants in the mutiny ultimately redeem themselves in the momentous victory at Trafalgar, where they display true patriotism. The height of significance takes place at the execution, which precedes the description of Billy's burial, which begins in a somber mood before blossoming into a metaphysical transformation.
Captain Graveling tells Ratcliffe that he is taking away his best man. Billy is too innocent to understand the proposal at first, too loyal to acquiesce, and too honorable to report the ambiguous solicitation. The light of dawn touches him, making him appear like some kind of divinity as he dies. Modern military technology changes the nature of combat, but the narrator still thinks there is a place for the performance, in show if not in fact, of old-fashioned bravery in modern combat. Claggart As Billy's primary nemesis, Claggart is the catalyst for the loss of innocence. Puzzled by this persecution, Billy seeks out the advice of the Dansker, an aged, experienced sailor.
He is much merrier than most sailors conscripted into the navy and the narrator guesses that this may be due to the fact that he has a family back home he knows is proud of him. Billy Budd dies because Captain Vere calls a drumhead court to try Billy Budd for the murder of John Claggart. Despite the warnings of the Dansker, a wise old sailor who befriends Billy, Billy cannot believe that Claggart harbors any ill will toward him. He imposes the word of the law but ignores its spirit, foolishly sending a good and innocent man to his death because that is what the law requires of him. This irritates Ratcliffe, who thinks it's a slight against being conscripted into the navy.
At a young age of thirteen he had to work at a bank to help his family. The captain is forced to call a drumhead court promptly, since they are at war, and a brief trial takes place in which the captain is the sole witness. In Billy Budd, we see the title character rise from a talented but naïve young sailor to the ranks of legend and martyr, an example of incorruptible goodness in a malevolent world. He harbors a palpable disdain toward Billy from the moment they meet. Billy Budd emerges from his cabin with a box of things and the lieutenant tells him he can't carry all that on-board, jokingly calling Billy Budd by the name Apollo. He is hard-working, charismatic, honest, and innocent.
Because objecting to the force of the navy would have been as ineffectual as a bird protesting being put into a cage, the narrator implicitly compares society to a cage that inhibits individuals. Spencer was a young and handsome sailor aboard the American warship, Somers, in 1842. Cite this page as follows: "Billy Budd, Foretopman - Summary" Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction Ed. This kind of innocence is naturally opposed by elements in the cruel world. He says that recent inventions have changed sea warfare, just as the introduction of gunpowder changed warfare on land. Regardless, Billy does not believe The Dansker's assessment of Claggart's motives. The navy continues to depend on impressments, or forced conscriptions, to fill its rosters.
Budd professes his loyalty to the king, which Vere says he believes, but after Budd leaves, Vere says to the judges that Budd must die regardless according to rigid naval law and the need to show strength and firmness of resolve to the crew , despite the "mystery of iniquity" that hangs over the circumstances and the man's obvious innocence. But he himself never has anything but a kind word for Billy. The whole issue of mutiny is the backdrop of the American and French Revolutions. A subterranean fire "was eating its way deeper and deeper in him". He tells the Dansker, who believes that Claggart is behind some kind of set-up.
When Billy's stutter prevents him from communicating his denial of Claggart's allegation, Captain Vere kindly attempts to calm him. Billy's farewell is a gesture of his camaraderie with his now former shipmates, but Ratcliffe interprets it as a contradiction of his new duty to the Indomitable, and symbolically you could describe Ratcliffe's concern being that Billy's farewell is actually a stated farewell to his individual rights, and as such a slight against those infringing on his rights though Billy, an innocent, has no sense of this. No one in the town understands John — and neither does his own mother — they all find him strange due to his imaginative nature. . Though less a center of attention than he was aboard the merchant ship, Billy does not notice the difference.
He is happy to be taken aboard, though Captain Graveling is grieved to lose him. All three of these views of Billy Budd are in their own sense true. Initially, his family was wealthy for some time until one year after Melville was born, they had to move to Albany trying to regain their fortune. This insistence on truthfulness has an interesting affect. . Though he has the good looks and blithe attitude of the ideal Handsome Sailor, his defining characteristic is extreme naïveté, not moral strength or courage. The narrator wonders if Captain Vere made the right decision in calling for a trial immediately.
Perhaps even more remarkable than Billy's skills as a sailor, however, is his goodness and innocence. Captain Vere is seen as a scholarly figure who keeps to himself until the end of the novella where he is forced into the conflict of a potential mutiny brewing. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. In mid-1924 Murry orchestrated the reception of Billy Budd, Foretopman, first in London, in the influential Billy Budd, placing it alongside Billy Budd by 1926 had joint billing with the book that had just recently been firmly established as a literary masterpiece. When the Red Whiskers punched Billy, Billy responded with a forceful blow of his own. Melville had a difficult time writing, describing his process with Moby-Dick as follows: "And taking a book off the brain is akin to the ticklish and dangerous business of taking an old painting off a panel—you have to scrape off the whole brain in order to get at it with due safety—and even then the painting may not be worth the trouble. If someone's character can be improved by being in contact with a good person, can it also be corrupted by exposure to evil? Berkeley: University of California Press.