The Role Of Innocence In Herman Melville's Billy Budd

723 Words3 Pages
In Billy Budd, Herman Melville writes about a man named Billy Budd and his adventure aboard the Bellipotent. Within the many tales of Billy Budd, many deaths occurred, including Billy Budd himself. Through this death, Billy’s religious-like figure and his interactions with other characters expose Melville’s true intentions for the characters and the book. Innocence is always triumphed by knowledge. Throughout the book, Melville makes a point to compare Billy to a multitude of religious people in many ways including their deaths and conflicts. A mention of a commotion between Captain Vere and Billy is described as “the old sea-Chiron watching Achilles.” Achilles, being the hero of Troy, was a soldier who had been cursed with impervious skin except for his ankle. It was this one…show more content…
Through this act of deceit and disobedience, the world descended into a realm of pain, hardships, and knowledge that plague humanity to this day. Within Billy Budd, Squeak, a shipmate, beings to reveal scurrilous lies to Claggart of Billy’s mutiny similar to the Serpent’s act of convincing Eve to consume the forbidden Apple of Knowledge. Claggart then accuses Billy of the mutiny and in the end, the two perish as did Adam and Eve. Adam and Billy’s innocence is trampled by the false knowledge acquired by Claggart and Eve. Even though Adam and Eve did not meet their deaths, their act inadvertently caused the death of humanity which ultimately lead to Claggart and Billy’s ability to sin. Finally, Billy is ultimately related to Christ. Throughout the entire book, Melville alludes Budd to Christ through their similar actions, personality and extenuating circumstances. Both men were kind and loved by the majority of people. Both men solve problems such as Jesus curing a man’s blindness and Billy curing a man’s disrespect, but in the end, their deaths show the true significance. Both men were innocent in light of their actions and yet
Open Document