Herman Melville's Billy Budd - Captain Vere was Correct
Length: 633 words (1.8 double-spaced pages)
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Captain Vere was Correct in Billy Budd
Captain Vere makes the correct decision by executing Billy Budd. If
CaptainVere lets Billy live the rest of the crew might get the impression that
they will not be held accountable for their crimes. If the crew feels that they
can get away with what ever they want then there is a chance that they might
form a rebellion and have a mutiny. A mutiny would destroy the stability and
good name of the ship and the crew. Captain Vere does not want to see this
happen. There are three main reasons Captain Vere makes the right decision by
executing Billy Budd. These reasons are that if Billy lives then a mutiny might
occur, because the law states that a crime as severe as Billy's is punishable by
death, and Captain Vere feels sorry for Billy and does not want Billy to suffer
with guilt until a martial court could give a decision.
If Billy is not executed then corruption might occur on the ship and
cause a mutiny. Captain Vere knows that a mutiny might occur and does not want
it to happen. Captain Vere could possibly be using Billy's execution for his
crime of killing Claggart as an example for the rest of the crew. It shows the
crew what will happen to them if they try to start a mutiny. After Billy's
death CaptainVere obviously feels regret for executing Billy. Captain Vere's
last words are "Billy Budd, Billy Budd" (p. 76) show an example of this. Those
last words might symbolize that Captain Vere killed Billy for the wrong reasons.
If CaptainVere uses Billy's death for an example to the rest of the crew then it
might not necessarily be the wrong reason. CaptainVere has to decide between
one life and the lives of the entire crew. No matter what Captain Vere's
reasons are he does make the right decision.
Another reason CaptainVere might of executed Billy Budd is because
CaptainVere follows the law to the letter. The law states that mutiny is
punishable to by death. Some readers might not see this accidental murder as
mutiny, but killing a superior officer in the British navy is considered mutiny.
In Captain Vere's decision he shows the crew that no infractions of the law will
be tolerated. In the story CaptainVere is described as "never tolerating an
infraction of discipline" (p. 16). This trait could be the reason for Billy's
Another reason Captain Vere might execute Billy Budd is that he does not
want Billy to suffer with his extreme guilty until a martial court can see his
case. Captain Vere probably had a personal attachment to Billy. This is
evident when Captain Vere says, "struck dead by an angel of God! Yet the angel
must hang!" (p. 51). This statement implies Captain Vere's true feelings for
Billy. If Captain Vere had let a martial court try the case then they would
most likely come to the same conclusion. Because of this fact Captain Vere did
not find it necessary to make Billy wait for a trial.
Captain Vere made the right decision by executing Billy for his crimes.
Although the decision was controversial it kept stability among the crew. The
crew's fate is more important than any individual sailor's fate. If Captain
Vere had made the opposite decision than there probably would be a very horrible
fate for the Bellipotent. Billy Budd could be considered a tragic hero. In his
short life Billy touched more lives than most people do in there entire lives.
Billy is somebody that most readers would agree is a tragic hero. Even though
Billy Budd is so great, Captain Vere made the right decision.