The Importance Of Homosexuality In Herman Melville's Billy Budd

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By using ambiguous language, Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor explains homosexuality and the issues the group had in society. It can be assumed that at least three of the Bellipotent’s crew were homosexual and other members of the crew knew this as well. Through the time period there was constant fear and persecution of homosexuals which led to the crewmen being silent in their justice just as homosexuals were silenced in their prosecutions by others. By using historical aspects, Melville has hidden under everyone’s nose the implications of homosexuality on the ship. Captain Vere is seen as a scholarly figure who keeps to himself until the end of the novella where he is forced into the conflict of a potential mutiny brewing. However, Vere is not all what he seems to be. In 1810, Vere was a name known prominently for the Vere Street Coterie. It was an event where eight men were hanged for sodomy after a raid in a male brothel with several others having been arrested and freed. It can be deduced that Vere’s name is then either a reference to the fear against homosexuals or perhaps he was indeed a homosexual himself as at the end of the novella. Captain Vere dies with Billy’s name being his last utterance, a sign of affection for…show more content…
In a later scene, when Billy and Claggart are speaking alone, Claggart accuses Billy of trying to charm him. Charm in this sense was not to be used as a liking as a family member or friend but an even closer relationship. Claggart did not wish to like Billy as all the other sailors did as Claggart pointed out. It is a constant push and pull scenario with the master-at-arms wishing to commune with Billy and be “charmed” by him but continues to be repulsed by the idea. He is then also seen bullying Billy more as if to punish Billy for the feelings that he had for the foretopman in
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