Billy Budd Essay Research Paper Matthew Chisam

Matthew Chisam

English III Period 5

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Billy Budd Journal

Setting: The story begins on the merchant ship rights-of-man. Billy is impressed by the British navy ship the H.M.S. Belliportent, he goes without confrontation. The story takes place in 1797 around July of that year. The ship is the main setting bu

many over look the great importance of the sea in the story. The ship is torn between mutiny and is in the middle of a war between the French and British. The ship is on route to meet up with other members of there fleet in the Mediterranean. As the

ip is on route they encounter a French ship off the coast of Gibraltar. The French ship is able to avert the Bellipotent because of its superior speed. The Bellipotent is a heavily armored gunner ship. The extent o the ships interior is limited to th

sleeping quarter and storage rooms; the other rooms are not described in great detail. Billy sleeps on the bottom bunk in his sleeping quarters. A man named Squeak lives down below the ships deck along with the rats. The gun deck is outfitted with seve

y-eight cannons, this is a cramped place because of the amount of gunpowder and cannon balls that are strewn about the lower deck. When arriving in the Mediterranean the crew encounters a large French ship called the Athee. The ship is heavily armored

ut is out gunned by the Bellipotent.

Point of View: In the novel Billy Budd the point of view is in the narrative format in which the characters are seen as if you could read there thoughts and see all of the actions of the characters. By writing the novel in the third person it made the

ovel much more difficult to comprehend because of the amount of information that is presented to the reader. But the insight that the reader gets from the characters balances out the pros and cons of third person. The novel was very wordy which made

ading of the novel difficult at times. Thought without the third person we would not have ever known that Claggart went to Squeak and there are more examples we would not have known what had happened after Billy?s death. If the point of view was from

lly?s eyes. All we would know is what he saw and what his thoughts where. But by writing in the third person Melville is able to get inside of each of the characters and tell the reader his thoughts and what is done behind the main characters back. T

point of view that Melville choose was a good choice because of the characters and what was done without the knowledge of the main character. The superior insight the was given made the novel the masterpiece that it is.

Theme: The message of the novel is the cruel twist of fate and hatred and in which life is not fair. Billy Budd is wrongfully executed because of jealousy and hatred. If Billy was the epiphany of good then Claggart is the epiphany of evil. In the be

nning there is little interaction with Claggart and Billy. But even though Billy does not know that Claggart is plotting against him; in the end Claggart gets what is coming to him. But in the end because of careful planning on the part of Claggart, B

ly is hanged. Three days after the death of Billy the British found that Billy was guilty of neither treason nor murder. I don?t know the full extent to the symbolism that is personified in those last few sentences. The last words of the dying captai

are ?Billy Budd, Billy Budd.? The captain feels that Billy will be waiting for him after he dies, he is almost calling to him and telling him that he will be there soon. Again Melville shows that even the good die and that the only person that helped

lly and cared for Billy was Dansker. Dansker is an old sailor who will soon feel the cold hand of death. And the Afterguardsman who is a tool of Claggart is not punished for what he does because Billy does not wish to tell the captain. In short Melvi

e gives the reader a hard dose of reality in which the good do not always live; and the bad can go unpunished.

Conflict: The conflicts in the book are meaningless but give a symbolic meaning behind them like when Billy jumps on the bow of the Bellipontent to bids farewell to the Rights-of-Man the lieutenant yells at Billy and tells him to site down. Billy is

w in a new world in which discipline is the difference between life and death. He is no longer on the easy going Rights-of-man but is on the military ship the Bellipontent. This was only a minor conflict but is does send out a message. The biggest co

lict in the novel is built early in the story. Claggart is jealous of Billy beauty and will do anything to justify the killing of Billy. He talks to Squeak who justices what Claggart wants to do. Billy is almost god like and this is killing Claggart

the inside. Claggart tells that captain that Billy is a mutineer and should be put to death for his crime. When Billy is confronted by this he is so enraged that he punches Claggart with so much force that he kills Claggart. The captain sees this an

does not believe what he saw. A trial is held and Billy is found guilty of mutiny and of murder. He is hanged and his last words were a blessing ?God bless Captain Vere.? Throughout the story there are signs of conflict between Billy and Claggart. Wh

Billy spills soup on the newly cleaned deck Claggart shows no reaction until he sees who it is. Then he compliments Billy. This was very strange because Billy was told to watch out for Claggart and this. Claggart is attempting to throw Billy off of

s plans to execute and perfectly planned game in which the Billy is the loser. Thought there was more than major conflict when Billy is asked to meet the afterguardsmen outside to speak of Mutiny; he offers a bribe and Billy is so enraged that he stam

rs and stutters, he almost punches him but before he could the Guardsman is gone. The aftergurardsman is a tool of Claggart and because of this Billy is trapped with no where to go. Earlier Clasggart is all over Billy because of small things that would

ot have bothered the most disciplined of soldiers such as Billy?s bag and hammock. These little things foreshadow a battle between Claggart and Billy.

Symbolism: The novel Billy Budd can be interpreted in so many ways, some people could see the spilling of the soup as just Billy being careless or that Billy spilling the soup could foreshadow his own fate in which when Claggart compliments him that is

nexpected and Billy dying in the end is also very unexpected. Billy is seen as a handsome sailor who is flawless in every way almost god like. But the stammer that he has when he is nervous shows that even though he may look perfect there is still a l

tle in perfect in him. In the beginning of the novel Billy is compared to a handsome black solider who is at the docks. This is something that I do not understand; Why would Melville compare a black man to Billy? Does this show that beauty does not de

nd on the race of the individual or does this have a deeper meaning that is not fully understood by myself. When Billy is impressed by the Belliponent as the ships are going there separate ways Billy jumps on the bow of the Belliponent and bids farewe

to the Right-of-Man. The lieutenant screams at him and tells him to sit down. This is symbolic in the respect that Billy is now in a different world in which discipline is a key role in survival on a military ship. On the right-of-man he was free t

do what he wanted to the extent that it did not interfere with his work or others. Now he must keep his bunk clean and follow orders as if commanded from god himself.

Character: The antagonist in the novel is Clarrgart and the protagonist is the main character Billy ?Baby? Budd. As long as Clarrgart has been in the story he has been jealous of Billy and will do anything to appease his angers be it transfer him or

ll him. Billy is the epiphany of innocence even his life story is saddening. Which can reflect on the way that he is now.

Billy ?Baby? Budd: He is a tall strong sailor who is impressed by the H.M.S. Belliponent. He is an orphan who was found on the doorstep of his adopted parents house. He is in his early twenty. He is innocent and does not wish to create conflict but

en the situation calls for action he is capable of packing a solid punch. Accused of treason by a man who knew he was innocent sent him over the edge and he kill Claggart.

Claggart: He is an evil person who thinks only of himself and wish he never seen Billy. He is enraged by the ability of Billy and plots to kill him. He talks to a man named Squeak who is a yes man. Claggart likes to hear how smart he really is. O

board the ship he is the Master of arms and is a respected man among the crew. The captain respects him but can see threw him. Claggart is killed because of his hatred and jealous by Billy.

Captain Vere: Older man who respect his crew and Claggart. He is into books and tend to drink often. When told that Billy may be a trader he is shocked, he had planned on promoting Billy. The Captain understands the disability that Billy has and ha

patience with Billy. He is wounded when the Bellipodent is attacked by the French ship Athee. His last words where ?Billy Budd, Billy Budd.?

Danserk: He is a veteran in his late forties. He knows all of the crew and gives Billy the nickname Baby. Danserk tells Billy the Clarrgart is ?down on him.? He tells Billy to watch out for Claggart. He starts out as a person who gives Billy a har

time but in the end he warns Billy of what will happen. Danserk guides Billy threw anything that Billy does not understand.

Afterguradsman: A tool of Clarrgart who offers Billy a bribe to mutiny with him. He is a big man who is hidden by the shadows of the deck. Billy get enraged and the afterguradman runs off.

Squeak: Lives down below the decks where the rats live. That is where he got his nickname. He talks to Clarrgart and gives Clarrgart confidence and agrees with him. A yes man.

Chaplain: Tries to convert Billy and comforts him when he needs him. Billy ignores what he says. The chaplain enters three times Billy is aware of two of those times. He prays with Billy and talks to him, he is the only one who can go and see him.

Surgeon: Dark figure who carries Clarrgart out of the captains quarters. He is the one who thinks that Billy should not be hanged until they reach Britain were a court could judge the case. He knows that Clarrgart is dead the second he picks him up.

Mr. Purser: He wonders why Billy body does not spasm like most do when hang them.

Captain Graveling: He is the captain of the Rights-of-Man. He does not wish for Billy to leave he calls Billy his peacemaker.

Lieutenant Ratcliffe: He is the person who impressed Billy and is also the person who yells at Billy and tells him to sit down when he jumps on the bow of the ship.

Butcher: Man who Billy gets into fight with because of the piece of meat that the man gave him as an insult.


1) Prowess (6): n exceptional ability, skill, or strength. exceptional bravery

2) Dibdin (16): n small, hand-held

3) Chevalier (26): n a member of certain orders of honor or merit

4) Agamemnon (30): n crew member

5) Felonious (38): adj. pertaining to or involving a felony

6) Contumelious (40): adj. stubbornly perverse or rebellious

7) Ineffectual (45): adj. not effectual; producing no satisfactory or decisive effect

8) precocity (49): adj. unusually advanced or mature in mental development

9) surmise (53): v to think or infer without certain or strong evidence

10) dubieties (55): v doubtfulness

11) recapitulated (57): v to review or to summarize

12) contrived (59): v to plan with ingenuity

13) juncture (61): n a serious state of affairs

14) gallantry (63): n dashing courage

15) arraigned (63): v to bring before a court

16) utterance (64): n an act of uttering vocal expression

17) relinquished (65): v to renounce or surrender

18) scruple (67): v a moral or ethical consideration

19) resolutely (72): adj. firmly set in purpose or opinions

20) revelation (73): n the act of revealing or uncovering

21) deviated (74): v to turn away from

22) prone (75): adj. natural tendency

23) transcending (77): v to rise above or go beyond the expected limits

24) martyr (78): n a person who willingly suffers death

25) fable (85): n a short tale to teach


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