Billy Budd

Herman Mellville's Billy Budd is and extremely divisive novel when one considers the dissension it has generated. The criticism has essentially focused around the argument of acceptance vs. resistance. On the one hand we can read the story as accepting the hanging of as the necessary ends of justice. We can read Vere's condemnation as a necessary military action performed in the name of preserving order aboard the Indomitable. On the other hand, we can argue that Billy's execution as the greatest example of injustice. The basic question at stake is: Is Vere's conduct right or wrong? In either case, since is an ethical text, why is there an absence of the emotion guilt? Here we have a ...

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is not the behavior one would expect from someone who had just accidentally killed someone else. On trial Billy has this to say for his actions: "I did not mean to kill him. But he foully lied to my face and in the presence of my captain, and I had to say something, and I could only say it with a blow, God help me!" This statement illustrates Billy's emotional response to his crime; He shirks the full weight of his action by pointing to his accidental nature. Billy is sorry that Claggart was killed, but he states the utterance as a response without truly feeling apologetic. This statement is a plea to save himself more that a eulogy to Claggart, however a feeling of remorse for murdering another human being is nowhere to be found. His concerns lie not with the one he killed, only with himself.
After the Hanging of , the story no longer relates the events on board the Indomitable. For this reason we are never shown Vere's emotional reaction to the decision to kill Budd. The only ...

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Billy Budd. (2006, August 13). Retrieved June 21, 2018, from
"Billy Budd.", 13 Aug. 2006. Web. 21 Jun. 2018. <>
"Billy Budd." August 13, 2006. Accessed June 21, 2018.
"Billy Budd." August 13, 2006. Accessed June 21, 2018.
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Added: 8/13/2006 01:30:56 PM
Category: Book Reports
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 666
Pages: 3

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