Furthermore, even if he admits that he is speculating, he is painting a picture of John Claggart and Billy Budd that becomes a part of the story he is telling. Billy was falsely accused by John Claggart.
To a large degree, he seems to be poking fun at its sentimental style, at the poor writing. Most of the writing is exposition. The irony involves paradox, a statement actually self-contradictory or false.
When they seem to be deadlocked, unable to make a decision, Vere steps forward to declare his conviction that the rule of law must supersede the reservations of conscience.
Claggart, a key example, attempts to defeat Billy, but in so doing, brings about his own death. After a period of further deliberation, the jury finds Billy Budd guilty as charged and sentences him to death by hanging on the following morning.
Overall, the novel depends on sustained irony in that it dwells on the discrepancy between the anticipated and the real.
The court dismisses Billy again to the stateroom. Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him? As the crew watches him being strung up, preparing to die, they hear him utter his last words: He philosophizes and speculates, but he lets the two central characters — Claggart and Billy — remain a mystery to him and us.
In a decisive move, Vere calls a drumhead court consisting of the captain of the marines, the first lieutenant, and the sailing master. So extensive is the use of mythic figures, stories, and analogues, that the novel is inevitably interpreted as allegory. Notice, however, that the narrator is totally inconsistent.
Yet Billy is not perfect. Foremost among the symbols are those of Christ and the Crucifixion. He knows exactly what happened in great detail, and can even tell you what different people were thinking at any given time.
The birds cry out a "cracked requiem. The conspirator quickly slinks into the darkness, and Billy finds himself confronted with the curious inquiries of two fellow sailors.Herman Melville This Study Guide consists of approximately 76 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Billy Budd.
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Captain Vere, wounded in the skirmish, eventually dies in a Gibraltar hospital, uttering as his last words, “Billy Budd, Billy Budd.” Finally, the legend of Billy Budd becomes recorded and institutionalized in naval circles.
point of view · The narrator generally focuses on Billy’s point of view, but in certain chapters shifts to that of Claggart and Vere.
For brief moments, the point of view of minor characters such as Captain Graveling is represented. Everything you need to know about the writing style of Herman Melville's Billy Budd, written by experts with you in mind.
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