The Tale of Billy Budd

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The Tale of Billy Budd

The tale is about a heroic naval man who was the ideal soldier, loved by fellow soldiers and industrious, skilled, had a cool demeanor and respectful to his masters. Billy Budd is a man of a descent naïve character who has not been corrupted by the evil in this world. His character has been used to inspire mariners to be a noble character. Billy heavily alludes to the biblical character of Jesus Christ throughout the novel. A man who was blameless and good to everyone yet people still found fault in him; like a sheep being led to a slaughterhouse.

Billy Budd's Greatest Nemesis

Billy Budd's greatest nemesis Claggart was a man who was born evil, blood flowed in his veins mixed with evil. He tried to hide his flaw but eventually, it won and was the motivating force in everything he did. He envied and later on despised Billy Budd because he could not understand how the latter was endeared by everyone he met for his abundance of a pure spirit. Claggart, out of the abundance of his evil spirit, brought a false accusation against Billy Budd to Captain Vere. He falsely accused him of being the leader of a mutiny. Claggart alludes to the biblical Joseph's brothers who sold Joseph into slavery because they envied him. When Billy is brought before the captain he cannot fathom the reason behind the false accusation and is unable to defend himself. This story is told to teach of the daily battle between evil and good. Evil may seem to triumph for a while but the final win is accorded to good. At the hour of Billy's death, Captain Vere recognized the good in him and revered him.

Billy Budd's Character and Virtues

Billy Budd's character is a story told to teach navy men to have virtues such as forgiveness, respect for authority and service to all. Despite Dansker's advice that Claggart was after Billy, Billy still served Claggart diligently. It may have been out of ignorance, but he did not understand the irony and sarcasm in Claggart's praises. He took them to heart as the truth. He does not see the bile nor the perpetrator in him. Jesus faced so much opposition from the Pharisees and they always set a trap for him just as Claggart sent the afterguardsman to corrupt Billy. But in all this, just as Jesus, Billy overcame evil with good by serving all men diligently. However, at his lowest moment, Billy shows that he is a mortal being, unlike his biblical counterpart who is immortal and has no limit to his pure spirit. Billy struck Claggart in anger, the final blow that took them both to the grave. At the lowest moment of Jesus, he still acted in love and put back the ear of the Roman soldier that was cut off by one of Jesus' disciples when they came to arrest Jesus.

Billy Budd as a Martyr

A martyr is someone who is killed for their beliefs and is greatly revered by generations that follow. Billy Budd was a martyr. He died because he could not renounce his character nor be able to defend himself against an adversary whom he thought was his friend. His martyrdom is seen to his last hour when at this death point he has a forgiving heart and prays for a blessing upon Captain Vere "God bless Captain Vere." When Captain Vere is also at his death end he recognizes the quiet and pure heart of Billy Budd such that it is what gives him peace at a trying point. He keeps calling out to Billy Budd as if he is savior and drawing strength in knowing he will be with him in paradise.

November 24, 2023



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