To form simply one opinion or show merely one aspect of this story is naive, rude, and closed minded. How may one stick to one deli mea, moral questioning, or out-look on a book that jumps from such cases like frogs on lily pads? Just as Melville has done, I shall attempt to arrange my perception of Billy Budd, in a similar fashion. That is, through an unorthodox practice (that is; jumping from pt. to point), of writing an essay I shall constantly change and directions and goals of what it is I wish to state.
One may perceive the book’s structure to be loose and quite flexible; one finds that the fits and starts, and the shifting of lengths between chapters are the best way to convey the feelings/ meanings of Billy’s story. Maybe the narrator believes that Billy is true on a deeper sense; in other words, it corresponds to real experience. Don’t you, yourself find that when you are trying to make a major decision, or living through some crucial event your mind keeps shifting from one thing to another, sometimes quickly and dramatically, sometimes inventing hypothetical situations to use as comparisons or differences? This is similar to the case as seen in Billy Budd. The Book doesn’t work in a strict and orderly fashion but starts out to describe at length different characters, then moves to fast actions, slows down again to a very argued trail, then draws rapidly to a close with Billy’s hanging. Even after that event, (the hanging), the book lingers on with a comment of it and ties up all loose ends (Captain Vere dieing etc…). Though this story lacks orthodox format, it coheres in a profound and moving way.
The style and point of view of Billy Budd can be dealt with together b/c of the strong narrative voice determines both. The narrator of the story is clearly a highly educated person with a great knowledge of mythology. Though the voice of the narrative is consistent in this novel, the point of view is constantly changing. Sometimes we are put inside the heads of the characters (he tells us Claggart’s secret thoughts about Billy, and makes us feel the anguish Captain Vere is experiencing in making his hard decision. Then again there are other times were he removes both of us (narrator, and reader), from a scene, (Best example being, when Vere goes to tell Billy that he must hang- and avoids mak...
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...was drafted directly from prison. But no one knows for sure. About his intelligence, just like the snake used his intelligence to trick Mankind, Claggart too uses his intelligence to trick Billy. Thus the fall of either’s “Garden.”
Upon this review, one can ask such a question of, does every Eden have to have its snake? The presence of John Claggart in Billy Budd suggest that evil is part of our world, and it will always attach itself to innocence and try to corrupt it.
Billy Budd focuses on the inner life of a single ship. Life aboard the Indomitable is a scaled down model of life itself, yet it is apparent of the intensity and almost claustrophic this setting can be as the story proceeds and everything is heightened. Thought the wide-open sea is all around, it only isolates the men from the rest of the world. If you’ve ever been momentarily separated on a camping trip, per-say, then you know how quickly one can get on another’s’ nerves. This story captures that intensity. One must also remember that Billy is set in a time of war and mutiny, and theses factors have a major impact on the story and everyone’s decisions.
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