Billy Budd: Justice and Martial Duty

Eva Lille
Humane Letters
4 November 2015

In order to thrive is it necessary to conform to society? In Billy Budd, Herman Melville leaves many topics open-ended, leaving us to question whether these events are just. Justice and martial duty revolve around internal conflict between an individual and society. Individuals' character is attested when they have to decide between what is morally right, and what has to be done to maintain order in society. Imposed martial law eliminates true justice in individuals. The struggle of internal conflict is displayed when Captain Vere's military disciplinarian is placed over fatherly instincts, Billy's impressment creating his want to ...

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Vere began to like Billy Budd, acting towards him in a fatherly manner. When Claggart accuses Billy of mutiny, Vere brings him in for questioning. His initial approach is stern and forward to Billy, telling him to stand up for himself when Claggart comes at him with precise comments. After he sees Billy struggling to create a statement, Vere softens his approach and tells him to take his time. Billy is now even more conflicted, and with one blow to the head he kills Claggart. "The father in him, manifested towards Billy thus far in the scene, was replaced by the military disciplinarian. In his official tone he bade the foretopman retire to a stateroom aft, and there remained till thence summoned"(83) Captain Vere immediately turns to his role in martial law as a commander, over his fatherly instincts. This event shifts to Vere calling the small drumhead court, without any waiting or questioning if it is the right thing to do. Vere is completely aware of Billy's innocence, and ...

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Billy Budd: Justice and Martial Duty. (2017, September 9). Retrieved July 19, 2018, from
"Billy Budd: Justice and Martial Duty.", 9 Sep. 2017. Web. 19 Jul. 2018. <>
"Billy Budd: Justice and Martial Duty." September 9, 2017. Accessed July 19, 2018.
"Billy Budd: Justice and Martial Duty." September 9, 2017. Accessed July 19, 2018.
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Added: 9/9/2017 02:28:50 PM
Submitted By: evafaith
Category: Book Reports
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1168
Pages: 5

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