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Billy Budd

Billy Budd


by Herman Melville

Billy Budd Admiration Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #4

Personal prudence, even when dictated by quite other than selfish considerations, surely is no special virtue in a military man; while an excessive love of glory, impassioning a less burning impulse, the honest sense of duty, is the first. (4.6)

The narrator here makes clear that he respects "an excessive love of glory" over "personal prudence." Are there any characters in the novel that you admire? If so, do you admire them for the same reasons that the narrator does? In what ways is "an excessive love of glory" revealed to be an admirable trait in the story? In what ways is it revealed to be less than an admirable trait?

Quote #5

One instance of such apprehension: In the same year with this story, Nelson, then Rear Admiral Sir Horatio, being with the fleet off the Spanish coast, was directed by the admiral in command to shift his pennant from the Captain to the Theseus; and for this reason: that the latter ship having newly arrived on the station from home, where it had taken part in the Great Mutiny, danger was apprehended from the temper of the men; and it was thought that an officer like Nelson was the one, not indeed to terrorize the crew into base subjection, but to win them, by force of his mere presence and heroic personality, back to an allegiance if not as enthusiastic as his own yet as true. (5.2)

In the description of Nelson offered above, does the military seem to exploiting natural admiration? What is the relationship between admiration and loyalty? Between admiration and a sense of duty and respect?

Quote #6

Yes, and sometimes the melancholy expression would have in it a touch of soft yearning, as if Claggart could even have loved Billy but for fate and ban. (17.2)

With lines like these, in general, be very wary of the fact that the narrator is reading quite a lot into a very simple expression of Claggart's. He thus is not actually describing what is there, but rather what he perceives to be there. That said, how might the possibility of love for Billy only fuel Claggart's hatred of him?

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