After a cheery good-bye to his old mates, Billy settles in quickly among the company of the Bellipotent.
Yet in many ways, he is a realistic third person narrator. Billy spends his final hours in chains on board an upper gun deck, guarded by a sentry.
Furthermore, even if he admits that he is speculating, he is painting a picture of John Claggart and Billy Budd that becomes a part of the story he is telling. As he paints it, Claggart is simply evil and Billy is simply good. One night, an anonymous figure rouses Billy from his sleep on the upper deck and asks him to meet in a remote quarter of the ship.
Notice, however, that the narrator is totally inconsistent. Upon hearing of this unexpected blot on his character, Billy is rendered speechless. Billy is, again, being hanged. Regardless of how he learned the story of Billy Budd, he often admits that his knowledge of the situation is limited.
Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?
Is this a reliable way of viewing the two main characters? The narrator says, The hull, deliberately recovering from the periodic roll to leeward, was just regaining an even keel when the last signal, a preconcerted dumb one, was given.
A newspaper reports the incident from afar, implicating Billy Budd as the villainous assailant of an innocent Claggart. The British naval warship H. Billy packs up his gear without so much as a protest and follows the boarding officer of the Bellipotent, Lieutenant Ratcliffe, across the gangway to his new assignment.
The story develops simply, unhurriedly, yet the action rises to frequent dramatic cataclysms. Digressions, used at strategic moments, often give pertinent background to illuminate a particular event. The birds cry out a "cracked requiem.
Billy remains rather silent during his period of questioning, admitting to the blow but maintaining his innocence of intention and declaring his lack of affiliation with any potential mutiny. For example, how does he know what took place between Billy and the afterguardsman when the two were alone on the deck in the middle of the night?
Puzzled by this persecution, Billy seeks out the advice of the Dansker, an aged, experienced sailor. Through the use of innumerable literary devices, Melville unified his narrative and gave meaning and order to it.
The courts that try them realize that the charges are only superficial. We have no way of knowing what else is truth and what is imagination. His flaw, the stammer, suggests original sin. The irony involves paradox, a statement actually self-contradictory or false.
He knows exactly what happened in great detail, and can even tell you what different people were thinking at any given time.Everything you need to know about the writing style of Herman Melville's Billy Budd, written by experts with you in mind. Unlike most editing & proofreading services, we edit for everything: grammar, spelling, punctuation, idea flow, sentence structure, & more.
Get started now! Herman Melville This Study Guide consists of approximately 76 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Billy Budd.
Captain Vere, wounded in the skirmish, eventually dies in a Gibraltar hospital, uttering as his last words, “Billy Budd, Billy Budd.” Finally, the legend of Billy Budd becomes recorded and institutionalized in naval circles.
Billy Budd is a typical Melville production--a sea story, the author's favorite genre. It treats rebellion, directs attention to needed reforms (impressment), contains rich historical background, abounds in Christian and mythological allusions, concentrates action on actual incidents, and concerns ordinary sailors.
point of view · The narrator generally focuses on Billy’s point of view, but in certain chapters shifts to that of Claggart and Vere. For brief moments, the point of view of minor characters such as Captain Graveling is represented.Download