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Billy Budd

Billy Budd

by Herman Melville

Billy Budd Analysis

Literary Devices in Billy Budd

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

In the "Setting" section, we explain a bit about the climate of 1797. The story takes place during the Napoleonic Wars in the same year as a number of massive mutinies in the English fleet. Thus a...

Setting

At one point in Chapter 11, when detailing the antagonism between John Claggart and Billy Budd, the narrator observes that there is no worse place for two men that dislike each other than on board...

Narrator Point of View

The narrator of the story is not involved in the action, and we have no idea how he even got wind of Billy Budd's story in the first place. Yet in many ways, he is a realistic third person narrator...

Genre

Billy Budd is a lot of things. It is a tragedy and a drama, a piece of historical fiction, a literary and philosophical work. At the center of the novel, though, is a moral dilemma. It's so clear t...

Tone

In "Narrator Point of View," we noted that the narrator is not half as reliable as he pretends to be. What is clear, though, is that he is presenting the story of Billy Budd as a morality tale; he...

Writing Style

Before we even get going, consider the description of Billy being hanged, that is to say: drawn up by the neck until he is dead. The narrator says,The hull, deliberately recovering from the periodi...

What's Up With the Title?

Let's begin with the obvious answer: Billy Budd is the name of the main character. Now let's try to go a bit deeper.Who is Billy Budd? Late in the story, when Captain Vere is indistinctly heard mur...

What's Up With the Ending?

As we move toward the end of the book, we begin to get a number of different perspectives on the story that we are being told. We see a naval newspaper that portrays Billy as a mutinous man with mu...

Plot Analysis

The H.M.S. Bellipotent in a Time of WarIf it weren't for the conflict between Claggart and Billy, there would be no reason to tell the story of Billy Budd. Billy would be a nice admirable sailor wh...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Rumors of Claggart's DislikeThe dark shadow emerges when Billy can't figure out why he keeps getting in trouble for stupid little things like not putting his hammock away properly. He goes to the o...

Three Act Plot Analysis

The story is told in a very fatalistic manner. The narrator constantly speaks as if things could not have happened any differently than they did. Thus, it is not surprising that the "point of no re...

Trivia

Melville claimed to have spent four months living with the cannibalistic Typee people. There is definitely some truth in the story, though it's impossible to know just how much. (Source)On his pass...

Steaminess Rating

In short, there's not a lot of sex in this book. Some critics have suggested that the overwhelmingly male environment of Billy Budd and Melville's other novels suggests a return to an adolescent st...

Allusions

Ham, Son of Noah in the Bible (1.2)Taurus (1.3) Jove (1.11) Apollo (1.11) Thomas Paine (1.12) Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udulpho (11.2) Plato (11.9) Calvinism (11.9) Saul and David, from t...
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