Melvilles Characters/comparison Of Captain Ahab And Billy Budd

  • Length: 738 words (2.1 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document


Melville’s Characters





     Melville’s characters are distinct individuals that have some similarities and differences. There are three traits that tie Captain Ahab and Billy Budd together even though they are on different sides in the fight between Good and Evil. They each have communication problems that play a part in their deaths. Neither of them can see an issue from another point of view, nor can they be influenced by others, although for entirely different reasons. Ahab and Billy share a few traits even though they are generally opposite characters.

Communication problems are one of the factors that lead to Ahab’s and Billy’s deaths. Ahab never tells the entire truth to his men. He only tells them the parts that he thinks will motivate them to help him catch the whale. If the entire crew had been told before they signed on to help that they would be hunting the most dangerous whale in the sea none of them would have gone on the voyage and died. Also, Ahab is so inflexible that no matter how heated the conversation gets, he won’t change his opinion. Starbuck can’t talk any common sense into Ahab, he’s just too stubborn. If Ahab had listened to Starbuck, he might have died an old man instead of the way he did. Billy’s communication with others helps and hurts him. When Billy talks to people they almost always come away from the conversation with good feelings about Billy. He makes a lot of friends that way. However, Billy has troubles communicating too. He cannot sense if the person he is talking to is truthful or not. He talks to Squeak several times but never even guesses that Squeak is talking to him for mischievous purposes. Billy also stutters when he’s overcome, when he can’t find words to describe the emotions he is experiencing. He ends up dying because of this character flaw.

     Neither Ahab or Billy can see more than one side of an issue. Throughout the entire trip, Ahab never thinks of chasing the whale as something dangerous, something that shouldn’t be done. Nearly everyone else on the ship, excluding Fedallah, thinks that chasing after one whale, the most dangerous whale in the entire ocean, is crazy and that it’s an unnecessary risk of the crew’s lives. But Ahab, because of his inability to consider his crew’s views about the hunt and because he can only think of the whale as pure evil, condemns them all to death.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Melvilles Characters/comparison Of Captain Ahab And Billy Budd." 123HelpMe.com. 24 Jun 2018
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=76917>.
Title Length Color Rating  
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] 623 words
(1.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
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] 534 words
(1.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Billy Budd Essays: Three Main Characters - Billy Budd: Three Main Characters Billy Budd, a 19th century novel written by Herman Melville, involves three main characters: Billy Budd, John Claggart and Captain Vere. In the beginning of the novel, Melville portrays each character with distinct personality; Billy Budd is represented as the simple-minded sailor, Claggart is viewed as the villain, and Captain Vere is seen as the honorable superior of the ship. As the novel develops, the earlier images of these characters are contradicted as previously unseen traits of each character are revealed....   [tags: Billy Budd Essays] 746 words
(2.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Billy Budd by Herman Melville Essay - Billy Budd by Herman Melville Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were perfect. They were innocent and ignorant, yet perfect, so they were allowed to abide in the presence of God. Once they partook of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, however, they immediately became unclean as well as mortal. In Billy Budd, the author, Herman Melville, presents a question that stems directly from this original sin of our first parents: Is it better to be innocent and ignorant, but good and righteous, or is it better to be experienced and knowledgeable....   [tags: Melville Analysis] 1302 words
(3.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
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] 1083 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
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] 646 words
(1.8 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Herman Melville's Billy Budd - Innocence is More Important that Wisdom Essay - Herman Melville's Billy Budd - Innocence is More Important that Wisdom      In Billy Budd, the author, Herman Melville, presents a question that stems directly from the original sin of ouAdam and Eve: Is it better to be innocent and ignorant, but good and righteous, or is it better to be experienced and knowledgeable?  Through this work, Billy Budd,Melville is telling us that we need to strike some kind of balance between these two ideas; we need to have morality and virtue; we need to be in the world, but not of the world....   [tags: Billy Budd Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
1354 words
(3.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Herman Melville's Billy Budd - Captain Vere was Correct - 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....   [tags: Herman Melville Billy Budd Essays] 633 words
(1.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
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]
:: 8 Works Cited
3199 words
(9.1 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
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]
:: 5 Works Cited
598 words
(1.7 pages)
Better Essays [preview]

Related Searches




Billy can only see an issue in one way, innocently. He simply cannot think any other way. He never suspects Claggart or anyone would to something to harm him. He doesn’t think a person is capable of doing harm to him or anyone. Even when he’s about to be hanged he can’t believe that anyone would want to purposely harm him.

     Ahab’s ideas can not be changed by anyone except Moby Dick himself, but Billy’s mind can’t be changed for a different reason – his innocence is too powerful a trait in him. Starbuck tries arguing a few times but gets nowhere, Stubb and Flask don’t even waste the energy because they know it will be a futile effort. The only character in the entire book that changes Ahab’s mind is Moby Dick. Ahab was a regular sea captain before Moby crosses his path. When Moby takes Ahab’s leg something in Ahab’s mind changes. He no longer makes rational decisions or thinks about the safety of his crew like a sane man would. His mind has been changed, perhaps to evil. Billy Budd has many reasons to change his mentality during the voyage, but he never does. Even after Claggart betrays him, his innocence stays with him until he is hanged. A normal man would be consumed in anger at Claggart, or at the captain for carrying on with the hanging. But when he looks at his captain, the viewer knows that Billy is forgiving him. Only a pure, innocent mind that holds no hatred could forgive for its own death. His mind has not changed from its innocent beginnings.

     Both main characters have communication problems that lead to their death. They can’t see other people’s views on an issue, they are only capable of seeing their own. Neither of them can be influenced or changed by others. Melville’s characters of Captain Ahab and Billy Budd are for the most part opposites except for a few traits.



Return to 123HelpMe.com