Symbolism in Billy Budd by Herman Melville

Back in 1924, Herman Melville wrote a novel titled "Billy Budd" was at glance a story about an innocent yet troubled man's fall from goodness due to evil or simply. A story about good versus evil for such a seemingly simple story. Billy Budd has symbolism and meaning that through its open interpretation has been able to stand the test of time. Whether you see it as a story about society at large Jesus Christ or even simply a story about good versus evil. Billy Budd is able to captivate and challenge all readers to examine the deep narrative found on develop attempt.

Symbolism in Billy Budd


Good vs EvilIn the beginning of this story, Billy Budd is chosen to leave a merchant ship called the Rights of Man to go to the ship the Bellipoten at the old ship he was adored by everyone for his friendliness and handsomeness. However, on this new ship the master-at-arms, Claggart dislikes Billy immediately for his innocence. Claggart views this as a front to a dangerous person that could lead to mutiny. Billy remains naive and assuming that there is no animosity between them. Claggart art is convinced of Billy contempt for him when Billy's full sure that rolls onto his foot. There is a disconnect in how these two characters feel about each other Claggart could have friends captain Vere and hyperbolize as Billy saying that he is inciting a mutiny. Billy is summoned to defend himself and with intense accusations, Billy cannot speak and lashes out with a violent punch to Claggart head. This fatal blow kills Claggart and Billy is detained after a drumhead court were Vere provided witness testimony and Billy explained that he was not related to any mutiny. Billy's sentenced to be executed at dawn. Billy dies Peasley with no struggle his legacy continues with fear dying in battle a few days later and having his last words be Billy Budd Billy Budd. Newspapers dramatized Billy's assault but sailors respect his legacy and create a ballad in his honor.

The most prevalent symbolism in Billy Budd is the complicated relationship between good and evil. However, in this novel good is personified in Billy's innocence. He's a friendly and naive person that assumes the best of all he encounters including Claggart. Claggart is the source of evil hating someone just for their innocence. This was demonstrated in many ways for example quote 'antipathy spontaneous and profound such as a vote in a certain exceptional mortals by the mere aspect of some other moral however harmless' he may end quote this quote shows flag art's hatred for Billy's harmlessness, in addition, this evil is innate as shown by the line quote with no power to annul the elemental evil in him though readily enough he could hide it apprehending the good but powerless to be it in nature like high arts Edco. Billy's innocence is corrupt by evil. The narrator even admits that Billy is not the traditional hero because he is not fighting for moral causes. Billy's primary characteristic is innocence this causes him to not recognize Claggart evil and in turn be drawn to violence. Evil exists to corrupt innocence for example water is very pure similar to Billy's innocence when Claggart evil attempts to corrupt him it works because the innocence is unknowing of the evil once corrupted the innocence cannot return to its pure form just like Billy cannot return to normal life after his murder of Claggett. His action causes Billy to fall from grace and perish. Vere said quote struck dead by an angel of God yet the angel must hang end quote this is about Billy's murder however even this violence does not stop the sailor's admiration of Billy as proven by the ballads that live on.

Cultural Symbolism: From the start of the story it's clear that Melville is presenting a narrative about the injustices of society in the opening scenes of the book Billy is taken from his comfortable life his forced to move on to a government-run ship where he has to work for the English against his will from the draft to even enslavement scenarios were the government and higher-ups take advantage of common people have existed in all of the world's history. In addition, the relationship between Claggart and the crew can really represent the relationship between the state and the people. There is not a single person on the ship including the higher-ups who show any sort of compassion towards Claggart yet he is able to exercise extreme force on the crew often for no reason at all besides intimidation. Nobody agrees with Claggart yet there's nothing anybody can do about it in a world like the one we live in today that scenario sounds all too familiar. In many ways, the struggle between Billy Budd and Claggart can be seen as a cultural illusion symbolizing all of the moments in history where the state has heavy conflicts with the people leading to disastrous results.

Religious Symbolism: A third and very predominant form of symbolism that Billy Budd is the complete referencing to Christianity and that of Billy Budd being the Christ. Billy Budd is portrayed as two different characters from biblical context by the narrator both biblical Adam before the fall of man and Jesus Christ. Like Adam Budd was extremely innocent and almost childishly naive as he was willing to go anywhere before fellow man such as leaving the right of man and going to the naval ship. The officers were very surprised in eager to see buds excitement with joining them and becoming a quote/unquote model salesman. Even buds last words god bless captain veer and quote showed how he respected and loved the man who put him into his final position. Furthermore, at the trial of bud, we got to see something similar to the trial of Jesus Christ when he was brought before the Pharisees. Here when he was accused of becoming a treason against his boat and trying to overthrow the captain rather than saying anything in defending himself. He stayed quiet as Jesus did when he was interrupted by the Pharisees. In addition at the hanging of bud we can see a very Christ-like portrayal quoting at the same moment a chance that the very brief least hanging low in the East was shot through with soft glory as of the fleece of the Lamb of God seen a mystical vision and simultaneously were there with watched by the wedged mass of upturned faces. Billy ascended and ascending took the full Rose of Don very similar to after the fifty days on earth. Jesus ascending into the sky into the cloud. Throughout this novel, Billy is seen as a perfect character in some ways even better than Christ as he never had a moment of doubt that was put into a bad situation and became a martyr for his own movement. Even after at Billy's death, his fellow sailors remembered him by seeing where he had died on the mast saying to them a chip of it was a piece of the Cross. Poems and news articles through both wrongs wrote about Billy in a way marked with sorrow and pity. Billy to his sailors and to the world was a great innocent misfortune. This is how I portrayed Christ and Adam in Billy Budd. From good-versus-evil to culture allusions to even the story of Jesus Christ Billy Budd is a unique story that has an extreme amount of symbolism found in every single corner thanks for reading.
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