Irony in Billy Budd Essays

Irony in Billy Budd Essays

Length: 609 words (1.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

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). The character of Billy Budd is portrayed as a peacemaker, a young, innocent, likable, sweet man. However, halfway through the story, he becomes a murderer. Billy Budd was first introduced to the reader as a good looking young man in good health who was honest and sincerely innocent. He does not believe that Claggart could dislike him, since he is so nice to his face. When Billy finds out about Claggart's lies, he strikes him and kills him. This is not an action that was expected by readers due to the persona he exemplified throughout the first half of the story. Bil...

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Essay about Herman Melville's Billy Budd as Allegory of Good versus Evil

- Herman Melville's Billy Budd as Allegory of Good versus Evil Herman Melville's Billy Budd relates an allegory of innocence versus evil by symbolizing Billy Budd, John Claggart, and Captain Vere as Jesus Christ, Lucifer, and God. The protagonist in the novel is Billy Budd.  The experiences that Billy undergoes throughout the novel parallel what Jesus Christ endured in his life.  Melville characterizes Billy Budd as an innocent man physically and mentally.  The first feature sailors would notice about Billy were his schoolboy features, with blond hair and blue eyes.  His suave looks caused some people to refer to him as "the handsome sailor"(16).  Most often sailors were scurvy men, quite of...   [tags: Billy Budd Essays]

Better Essays
1320 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on Contrast Between Good and Evil in Billy Bud

- Contrast Between Good and Evil in Billy Bud Since the beginning of time, there has always been a tenacious struggle between good and evil. In a particular famous book, The Bible, the continuous clash between good and evil remains evident throughout the work. In Herman Melville's novel, Billy Budd, symbolism, characterization, and irony are put to use to develop the dramatic contrast between good and evil. Symbolism is used to directly contrast good and evil....   [tags: Herman Melville Billy Budd Essays]

Better Essays
646 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)

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 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]

Better Essays
680 words (1.9 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]

Better Essays
598 words (1.7 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)

Essay about Billy Budd - Thoreau and Melville

- Billy Budd - Thoreau and Melville The story of Billy Budd provides an excellent scenario in which to compare and contrast Thoreau and Melville. The topics of government-inspired injustice and man's own injustice to man can be explored through the story. Thoreau's position is one of lessened government and enhanced individualism, while Melville's is one of group unity and government's role to preserve order. The opinions of Melville and Thoreau outline the paradox of government: Government cannot exist without man, and man cannot exist without government....   [tags: Billy Budd Essays]

Better Essays
1083 words (3.1 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]

Better Essays
3108 words (8.9 pages)

Essay about Reader Reaction to Billy Budd

- 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....   [tags: Billy Budd Essays]

Better Essays
1210 words (3.5 pages)