Melville’s Billy Budd
This paper explains how the organization of Billy Budd by Melville reinforced the theme of guile. It seeks to address how the author structured his work to convince the reader that guile is a form of destruction of human life. The essay starts by giving a synopsis of the book and later gives supporting evidence of how well Melville structured the book.
The book is about Billy Budd who was employed in the Rights of Man merchant ship as a seaman. He was young and illiterate but this did not suppress the fact that he was well capable in carrying out his duties. However, not everyone liked him. The overseer, John Claggart, disliked Billy the moment he set eyes on him. Billy however did not come to understand that Claggart hated him thus was not cautious when dealing with him. Thus, it was easy for Claggart to come up with a plot, thereby accusing Billy of planning rebellion among the fellow workers in the ship. This led to Billy accidentally murdering Claggart as a protective impulse, and consequently was punished through hanging. The book is thus a demonstration of how guile leads to destruction of human kind (Hayford)
In the story, Melville gave the audience the background information of the working conditions of the workers at sea. He chose the sea set-up, with the ship representing the world or a perfect society. This is because people of different level of authority would work together and interact socially. In addition, there were laws and regulations that governed the people at sea. The preface also pointed out that the environment was not peaceful due to the French and English engagement in war. This could help the reader understand the ship’s society existed in the midst of violence (Hayford, p5).
The author, in the first chapter, gave the audience adequate details on the main character Billy. This would help the reader become familiar with this character. He also introduced the...