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Top Choices Of Billy Budd Essays

Alright, let's play a word-association game. I say, , and you say... !

Now, let's imagine that we play this game in the year 1891, the year of Melville's death. I say, Herman Melville, and you say...

Wait, you didn't say anything. That's because Melville's books went out of print in the year 1876, largely due to the critical backlash to his 1851 novel Moby-Dick. Melville's first two novels, Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847), were both popular and successful books. They were fairly simple adventure stories based upon his experiences as a sailor in the U.S. Navy, and for a few years it would have been very chic to invite Herman Melville to your New York salon to spin a good old sea-yarn.

But as Melville continued to publish, it gradually became clear that he wasn't just setting out to write adventure stories. His work dealt with historical, religious, and philosophical themes in great detail. Melville's reputation rapidly declined, and he was so discouraged that after the year 1866 he more or less stopped writing. When the plates for his books were burned in a fire, no one even bothered to replace them.

Melville worked on Billy Budd at the very end of his life, from the years 1888 to 1891. The book was not discovered until 1921, when Melville's granddaughter gave the manuscript to Raymond Weaver, a man who had decided to go against all the dictates of common sense and good business practices and write a biography of an author that was but a footnote in American literature, Herman Melville.

Except that Weaver's biography, , began a Melville revival that only accelerated when he released the unknown novel Billy Budd in 1924. Billy Budd is a taut little morality tale that takes place on board a ship of the English Royal Navy. It focuses on John Claggart's false accusation of Budd as a mutinous man, and the difficult moral and legal decision that falls on the Captain's shoulders as a result. The story is philosophically rich and remarkably nuanced, and the historical situation only adds to the suspense because it takes place in the year 1797, in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars and in the wake of several massive mutinies in the English fleet.

After Weaver's brave biography, people began to worship Melville. In particular, Moby-Dick became recognized as one of the greatest novels, both in America and abroad, ever to have been published. Billy Budd is a classic in its own right. It has since been converted to film a number of times, most notably by , and an opera has been made of the book written in part by E.M. Forster (of and A Passage to India fame). Next to Moby-Dick, though, Billy Budd may seem like small fry.

But next time you hear Herman Melville, allow yourself a mental hiccup before you spit out Moby-Dick. Remember that you might not ever have heard of Moby-Dick (or Herman Melville for that matter) if it weren't for Billy Budd.

Critical Insights: Billy Budd will delve into Herman Melville's short masterpiece.

This essay will explore different levels of Romanticism's sublime style in Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Herman Melville's Billy Budd.

A Secret Weapon For Billy Budd Essays

Reich, "The Tragedy of Justice in ," Critical Essays on Melville's Billy Budd, Sailor, pp.

"The Protagonists' Rainbow in Billy Budd: CriticalTrimming of Truth's Ragged Edge." American Transcendental Quarterly 7.2 (1993): 97-113.

"Cataloging the Creatures of the Deep: 'Billy Budd, Sailor' and the Rise of Sociology." Boundary 2: An International Journal of Literature and Culture 17.1 (1990): 272-304.

Free sample of thesis billy budd essays

"Melville's 'Incompetent' World in Billy Budd, Sailor." MelvilleSociety Extracts 34 (1978): 1-2.

"'Measured Forms' and Orphic Eloquence: The Style of Herman Melville's Billy Budd, Sailor." University of Toronto Quarterly:A Canadian Journal of the Humanities 59.4 (1990): 516-34.

Reich supports Vere's decision to hang Billy. In defense of this he Alludes to a famous English court case, in which three men were accused of Murder. However, the circumstances which led them to murder were beyond their Control; they had been stranded at sea and forced to kill and eat their fourth Companion, who had fallen ill and was about to die anyway. The Judge, Lord Coleridge, found them guilty because «law cannot follow nature's principle of Self-preservation.» In other words, necessity is not a justification for killing, Even when this necessity is beyond human control. Since Billy is unable to Defend himself verbally, he «responds to pure nature, and the dictates of Necessity» by lashing out at Claggart. I agree with Reich's notion that Vere was Correct in hanging Billy, and that it is society, not Vere, who should be Criticized for this judgement; for Vere is forced to reject the urgings of his Own heart and his values to comply with the binding laws of man. First, the moral issue aside, Captain Vere had no choice but to convict Billy. As captain of a ship under pressure of war and the constant threat of Mutiny, Vere had to act swiftly. Also, as captain, Vere had the responsibility Of making sure the laws were strictly enforced, including the Mutiny Act. Although Vere knew in his heart Billy was innocent, Billy's actions had to be Punished. For Vere to have acquitted Billy would mean that he had placed the Divine law of nature above the laws he was bound to enforce as captain of a British ship. Although this would have been morally right, who is to say where To draw the line? This rhetorical question is what Melville wants his readers to Think about. Melville could have easily written in the plot that Vere went along With the captain's suggestion to call witnesses. With the testimonies of Dansker, The afterguardsman, and Squeak, Billy could have been cleared of the mutiny Charge. But I agree with Reich that Melville wanted to use Billy as an example Of the flaws in the laws of society; that they do not take into account the laws Of nature. However, until we reform our laws in such a way that we cannot be Punished for something out of our control, we cannot expect the laws to be Interpreted that way.

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The Top Report on Billy Budd Essays

"Truth's 'Ragged Edges': A Phenomenological Inquiry into the Captain Vere-Billy Relationship in Melville's Billy Budd, Sailor." Studiesin the Humanities 19.1 (1992): 11-26.

The Simple Billy Budd Essays Approach

In the beginning of the novel, Melville portrays each character with distinct personality; Billy Budd is represented as the simple-minded sailor, Claggart is viewed as the villain, and Captain Vere is seen as the honorable superior of the ship.

Melville's Billy Budd and the Critics.

Yet, by the time he began writing Billy Budd, Sailor in 1888, Melville must have tempered this view, for Billy Budd depicts the inevitable destruction of a man who is all heart but who utterly lacks insight.

Free Billy Budd papers, essays, and research papers.

The protagonist in the novel is Billy Budd. The experiences that Billy undergoes throughout the novel parallel what Jesus Christ endured in his life. Melville characterizes Billy Budd as an innocent man physically and mentally. The first feature sailors would notice about Billy were his schoolboy features, with blond hair and blue eyes. His suave looks caused some people to refer to him as "the handsome sailor"(16). Most often sailors were scurvy men, quite of...

Essay/Term paper: Critical essay on melville's billy budd

Charles Reich's assessment of the conflict in Billy Budd focuses on the Distinction between the laws of society and the laws of nature. Human law says That men are «the sum total of their actions, and no more.» Reich uses this as a Basis for his assertion that Billy is innocent in what he is, not what he does. The point of the novel is therefore not to analyze the good and evil in Billy or Claggart, but to put the reader in the position of Captain Vere, who must Interpret the laws of both man and nature.Reich supports Vere's decision to hang Billy. In defense of this he Alludes to a famous English court case, in which three men were accused of Murder. However, the circumstances which led them to murder were beyond their Control; they had been stranded at sea and forced to kill and eat their fourth Companion, who had fallen ill and was about to die anyway. The Judge, Lord Coleridge, found them guilty because «law cannot follow nature's principle of Self-preservation.» In other words, necessity is not a justification for killing, Even when this necessity is beyond human control. Since Billy is unable to Defend himself verbally, he «responds to pure nature, and the dictates of Necessity» by lashing out at Claggart. I agree with Reich's notion that Vere was Correct in hanging Billy, and that it is society, not Vere, who should be Criticized for this judgement; for Vere is forced to reject the urgings of his Own heart and his values to comply with the binding laws of man. First, the moral issue aside, Captain Vere had no choice but to convict Billy. As captain of a ship under pressure of war and the constant threat of Mutiny, Vere had to act swiftly. Also, as captain, Vere had the responsibility Of making sure the laws were strictly enforced, including the Mutiny Act. Although Vere knew in his heart Billy was innocent, Billy's actions had to be Punished. For Vere to have acquitted Billy would mean that he had placed the Divine law of nature above the laws he was bound to enforce as captain of a British ship. Although this would have been morally right, who is to say where To draw the line? This rhetorical question is what Melville wants his readers to Think about. Melville could have easily written in the plot that Vere went along With the captain's suggestion to call witnesses. With the testimonies of Dansker, The afterguardsman, and Squeak, Billy could have been cleared of the mutiny Charge. But I agree with Reich that Melville wanted to use Billy as an example Of the flaws in the laws of society; that they do not take into account the laws Of nature. However, until we reform our laws in such a way that we cannot be Punished for something out of our control, we cannot expect the laws to be Interpreted that way.

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