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Character Roles (Protagonist, Antagonist...)
Tools of Characterization
Captain Edward Fairfax Vere
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Billy Budd Characters
Meet the Cast
The Handsome SailorDepending on which edition of Billy Budd you're using, you may have a good-looking Fabio type guy on the front cover with a red sash over his neck. If you check out our "Photo" l...
A Dark Force: Evil EmbodiedThe narrator doesn't know a lot about John Claggart – just like he doesn't know a lot about Billy Budd. Early on in the story, the narrator notes that, if he provid...
Captain Edward Fairfax Vere
Highfalutin Philosopher of the SeaIn the narrator's description of Captain Vere, perhaps the key point he makes is that Vere is smart. As in, when the Bellipotent's soldiers drink with the soldiers...
The Dansker is a quiet old Danish man aboard the Bellipotent that acts as something of an oracle (one who can tell the future or perceive things about the present that others cannot) for Billy. The...
Graveling is the Captain aboard the Rights-of-Man, Billy's old ship. When Ratcliffe recruits Billy to the Bellipotent, and Billy makes no complaint, Graveling is upset. As he explains to Ratcliffe,...
Ratcliffe serves as the boarding officer for the Bellipotent. When examining the men from the Rights-of-Man, Ratcliffe can immediately see that Billy is the best of them. He picks only Billy for na...
The afterguard is a stranger that appears on deck to ask Billy if he will take part in a mutiny. He tells them that there is a group of discontent men, offers him some gold coins, and asks, "Couldn...
The chaplain appears late in the novel to give Billy his last rites before he is executed. He perceives that his preaching is "like a gift placed in the palm of an outreached hand upon which the fi...
The surgeon is called in after Billy strikes Claggart. He can immediately see that Claggart is dead, but he checks anyway. When the surgeon hears the Captain's plans for dealing with Budd, he think...
The Purser makes a brief appearance after Billy's execution as "a rather ruddy, rotund person more accurate as an accountant than profound as a philosopher" (26.1). He is eating next to the surgeon...
Squeak is one of the master-at-arms' "more cunning corporals," known for his squeaky voice and ferreting movements (13.1). Claggart recruits him to do his dirty work: to spy on Billy Budd and repor...
On board Billy's old ship, the Rights-of-Man, Red Whiskers was the one man that initially didn't like him. As Captain Graveling recounts the story to Lieutenant Ratcliffe, Red Whiskers gave Billy a...
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