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Billy Budd Religious Symbolism - College Essays

Billy Budd Religious Symbolism

Billy Budd: One for All

In Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, the Christian symbolism can be baffling at certain points of the novel. In Chapter 18 Melville writes, “Then would Claggart look like the man of sorrows,” a biblical allusion relating to Isaiah 53: 1-5, in which Jesus is characterized as the “man of sorrows.” Thus, is Claggart, the apotheosis of evil, also an angelic body (Timmerman 28)? Because Melville writes so ambiguously in Billy Budd, there will always be several different interpretations and analyses. For example, in the battle between good and evil, Melville asserts that good people must die in order to stop evil through his use of biblical symbolism in Claggart, Billy ...

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aboard the Bellipotent, and help indicate his evil nature (Smith). The narrator describes Claggart by stating, “his complexion…though it was not exactly displeasing, nevertheless seemed to hint something defective or abnormal in the constitution and blood” (qtd. in Smith). Smith helps explain that it’s not hard to tell that Claggart is evil because his appearance signals the other characters and reader about his evil nature. Typically, people relate outward appearance to inward characteristics, motives, and values, such as in Claggart’s case. Claggart’s evil-minded nature with “something defective or abnormal in the constitution and blood,” has always been present to destroy the plan of good. Claggart’s evil is “born within him and innate,” and its appearance is always stimulated by resentment and jealousy. Therefore, Claggart starts his allurement of Billy with clever and devious adulation. Claggart tells Billy, “Handsome is as handsome does.” However, he always speaks with a ...

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a pure, uncorrupted man, the seamen see Billy as an archetype of pure manliness and maturity (Mottram 231). Another supporting factor centers on Billy’s physical appearance. Billy possesses “no physical blemish,” just as Jesus Christ in the Old Testament could obtain no physical blemish of any kind (Timmerman 30). Lastly, Billy Budd’s ambiguous ancestry puts him in this conclusion. When asked about his upbringing, Billy answers by saying, “God knows, Sir.” In writing this, Melville describes a response similar to Jesus’ mysterious answer in front of Pilate. Billy is described as a “fondling, a presumable by – blow;” however, “noble descent was as evident in him as in a blood horse.” So, ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 4/3/2011 09:29:11 PM
Submitted By: mattdial325
Category: Book Reports
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1459
Pages: 6

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