Why Is Billy Budd's Punishment Undeserved

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In the film Billy Budd, Billy gets hung in front of his shipmates. This happens because Billy is accused of murdering one of his superiors on the ship. Some view his punishment for killing Claggart as deserved, while others view it as undeserved. Both sides can give reasoning for their viewpoints. I believe that Billy’s punishment was undeserved. One reason why Billy’s punishment was undeserved is Billy hit Claggart out of self defense and fear. The viewers learn that Billy is an innocent and disabled man throughout the movie. Claggart begins to question Billy about numerous untrue ideas. When Claggart begins to accuse Billy of starting a mutiny, Billy begins to feel afraid. Out of fear and for self defense, Billy strikes Claggart on the head. This action kills Claggart because he falls and hits his head. Some believe that Billy’s punishment was deserved because of the fact that Claggart died from the hit. Viewers with this viewpoint believe that no matter if Billy meant to kill Claggart or not, he committed a crime, therefore, he should be punished. I do not believe this; I believe that Billy was undeserving of his punishment because he did not intentionally kill Claggart. In…show more content…
If the men were to wait until they came ashore to conduct the trial, it would have gone differently. One way it would have been different is the jury would have been made up of people who did not know Billy nor Captain Vere. The typical jury has no connection whatsoever to the case that is being tried, but on this ship, the jury really only knew the viewpoints of Captain Vere. The opposing viewpoint may believe that the jury was an acceptable jury because it was made of a group of people who were to help decide the outcome of the court case. I believe that Billy’s trial was unfair because the jury was not acceptable, making his punishment
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