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Billy Budd

Billy Budd


by Herman Melville

Billy Budd Loyalty Quotes

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

Quote #1

[Billy's former captain:] "And, lord bless you, the lubber was astonished at the celerity. And will you believe it, Lieutenant, the Red Whiskers now really loves Bill – loves him, or is the biggest hypocrite that ever I heard of. But they all love him." (1.10)

According to Billy's old Sea Captain, Budd is a peacemaking force on board a ship. Other men's admiration for him seems to make them more content in their own duty, and hence more loyal to the English King. What is the difference between love and loyalty? What about the difference between respect and love? Loyalty and respect?

Quote #2

Of self-consciousness he seemed to have little or none, or about as much as we may reasonably impute to a dog of Saint Bernard's breed. (2.11)

If Billy is really as simple as the narrator makes him out to be, then how can he even be called loyal? Doesn't one need to make a conscious decision to be loyal to a man or a cause? Is it possible for a man to practice loyalty in the same way that a dog does?

Quote #3

At the height of Napoleon's unexampled conquests, there were Americans who had fought at Bunker Hill who looked forward to the possibility that the Atlantic might prove no barrier against the ultimate schemes of this French portentous upstart from the revolutionary chaos who seemed in act of fulfilling judgment prefigured in the Apocalypse. (8.3)

How does the meaning of loyalty change in a climate like that of 1797, a climate rife with revolutionary thoughts and uprising? What is the difference between being loyalty to a cause and being loyal to a government? Does Billy seem loyal to either?

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