Essay about Reader Reaction to Billy Budd

Essay about Reader Reaction to Billy Budd

Length: 1210 words (3.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview



Reader Reaction to Billy Budd

 

I approached Melville's Billy Budd with a mixture of trepidation and determination. I read the Introduction first, because I thought its purpose was to introduce the author, and place the selected stories in context and I thought this would be an aid to understanding. I was correct, but too correct, because Joyce Carol Oates, without warning of the spoiler, casually references Billy's death.  

 

I think this knowledge influenced my reading, because I was aware of the ultimate outcome, I read with the purpose of understanding why that came to be.  However, I am still a little angry with her for ruining the climax because Billy Bud is not such a generally well known story that it is fair to assume that the reader is familiar with the plot; her Introduction should have been Afterword.  It did, however, provide some useful information that I was glad to know beforehand.

 

For example, explaining that the work was published posthumously, based on unfinished  manuscript was helpful in understanding that the sometimes sloppy diction and overdone prose was not the work that Melville intended for the audience--had he lived and published it himself, he would have edited and refined it. Knowing this I approached it by reading for the ideas he was trying to convey  rather than trying to find meaning in each line.

 

Billy Budd is written in a style that is intimidating and at times the prose can overwhelm the concepts. It is unfortunate that the first few chapters are the best example of this because it alienates readers and this story requires several readings to fully appreciate the work.  Melville's use of double...


... middle of paper ...


...eliberations, he decided almost instantly and the justifications were all read in the context of him persuading the court so I did not feel like it was a true moral deliberation.

 

I have thought about Melville's style of writing a lot, debating on whether it is good or bad, because I feel like he alienates a large audience.  I have come to the conclusion that the problem is not his style but the audience itself.  As a society, we have become very lazy readers, we want soundbites and great literature in a nutshell.  His writing disrupts our expectations and you really have to work to read and understand each of his sentences.  But when a reader does so, you come to appreciate what a truly great writer he is--he packs so much meaning into just a few lines, and you start to savor his truly artful turns of phrases. 

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on the Dilemma of Billy Budd

- The Dilemma of Billy Budd Herman Mellville's Billy Budd is and extremely divisive novel when one considers the dissension it has generated. The criticism has essentially focused around the argument of acceptance vs. resistance. On the one hand we can read the story as accepting the hanging of Billy Budd as the necessary ends of justice. We can read Vere's condemnation as a necessary military action performed in the name of preserving order aboard the Indomitable. On the other hand, we can argue that Billy's execution as the greatest example of injustice....   [tags: Billy Budd Essays]

Strong Essays
680 words (1.9 pages)

Billy Budd Essay example

- Billy Budd Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor is evidently an extremely divisive text when one considers the amount of dissension and disagreement it has generated critically. The criticism has essentially focused around what could be called the dichotomy of acceptance vs. resistance. On the one hand we can read the story as accepting the slaughter of Billy Budd as the necessary ends of justice. We can read Vere’s condemnation as a necessary military action performed in the name of preserving the political order on board the Bellipotent....   [tags: essays papers]

Strong Essays
1883 words (5.4 pages)

Captian Vere's reactions to Billy Budd in Billy Budd Essay

- Captian Vere's reactions to Billy Budd in Billy Budd When Captain Vere says “Struck dead by an angel of God. Yet the angel must hang!” his attitude towards Billy Budd changes from one of paternal concern and personal respect to one in which he has set aside his personal thoughts and feelings for the sake of his nation. Each sentence represents this dichotomy by indicating his sentiment towards Billy. In the first, Billy is “an angel of God” who has “struck” Claggart dead, in a righteous manner....   [tags: Vere Billy Budd Essays]

Free Essays
414 words (1.2 pages)

Essay about Herman Melville's Billy Budd - The Tragedy of Billy Budd

- The Tragedy of Justice in 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....   [tags: Herman Melville Billy Budd Essays]

Free Essays
534 words (1.5 pages)

Irony in Billy Budd Essays

- Billy Budd is a story filled with irony. This literary aspect can be seen through the plot and characters of the work. As defined in The American Heritage Dictionary, irony is the use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning. After a casual reading of the story' the many ironic aspects may have been igonred, but after analyzing the story it becomes obvious that they are of great importance. "...The fate of each character is the direct reverse of what one is led to expect from his nature" (Johnson, 185)....   [tags: Billy Budd Essays]

Strong Essays
609 words (1.7 pages)

Billy Budd Essay: Comparing Christ to Billy

- Comparing Christ to Billy of Billy Budd         "I stand for the heart. To the dogs with the head!" wrote Herman Melville in his June 1851 letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne (Davis and Gilman 3). 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. Melville no doubt intends for his reader to connect this tale with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Billy Budd endures a persecution similar to Christ's; he is executed for like reasons, and he eventually ascends, taking "the full rose of the dawn" (BB 376)....   [tags: Billy Budd Essays]

Strong Essays
3199 words (9.1 pages)

Essay on Herman Melville's Billy Budd - Billy Budd as Allegorical Figure

- Billy Budd as Allegorical Figure An allegory is a symbolic story. Herman Melville's Billy Budd is an example of an allegory. The author uses the protagonist Billy Budd to symbolize a superior being who has a perfect appearance and represents goodness. Melville shows the reader that a superior being can be an innocent victim of evil and eventually destroyed. In, Melville's Billy Budd, the main character is an allegorical figure who symbolizes all goodness in men....   [tags: Herman Melville Billy Budd Essays]

Free Essays
623 words (1.8 pages)

Free Billy Budd Essays: Billy Budd as Christ

- Billy Budd as Christ In this novel, Billy Budd, Melville acts as a "Creator", in that he gives Billy Budd certain superhuman qualities, which allows him to posses the traits of a servant of God. Billy Budd appears Christ-like, because of his peace-making abilities. Although, he is a peacemaker whom will fight for what he believes in and to keep peace. In the beginning of the novel, when Red Whiskers gives Billy Budd problems, he strikes him with a powerful blow and does not have any more problems with him or the crew again....   [tags: Billy Budd Essays]

Free Essays
952 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Biblical Allegories in Billy Budd

- Biblical Allegories in Billy Budd Herman Melville's Billy Budd is a novel with many biblical allegories ranging from subtle references to quite obvious similarities between characters and Biblical figures. One of the most prevalent and accepted similarities is that of "Billy as Adam" (Berthoff, Certain 33) around the time of the Fall, "The ground common to most discussion of Billy Budd is the assumption that the story is allegorical ... a reenactment of the Fall" (Berthoff, Certain 32)....   [tags: Billy Budd Essays]

Strong Essays
598 words (1.7 pages)

Comparing Billy Budd and Christ Essay

- Comparing Billy and Christ in Billy Budd Herman Melville's Billy Budd provides us with a summation and conclusive commentary on the ambiguities of moral righteousness and social necessity. The conflict that arises pitting natural justice in opposition to military justice essentially deliberates over whether the sacrifice of the individual is required for the continuum and conservation of social order. The deep allegorical theme of the passion of Christ that resides in Billy Budd illustrates Melville's adjudication on this issue....   [tags: Billy Budd Essays]

Strong Essays
3108 words (8.9 pages)