Monday, March 5, 2012

Research Paper on Billy Budd

Research Paper on Billy Budd

Any analysis seeking to understand the intricacies of Captain Vere's death, must first display an adequate understanding of the noble Captain's life, and the elements of his person from which a conflicted passing may arise. It is important to first note the life Captain Vere lead. He was regarded by all as a just and noble man, abundant in all the qualities of leadership, personality, and humility that draw persons to their leader. He was also very unique in possessing and projecting onto those around him a sort of dreamy persona as dictated by his nickname "Starry Vere." (Perkins 1634)

In fact, Vere's dominant good qualities set him as a character parallel to Billy Budd himself, as opposed to the antagonistic Claggart. Herein Mehlville sets the stage for unforeseen conflict, as it is Vere, Budd's counterpart in kindness and good nature that is ultimately faced with the difficult task of clinging to the principles that have always guided his life and ordering the death of his finest man. __________________________________________________________


It is the marriage of Vere's straightforward, fair leadership, and his compassion and personal attachment to Billy Budd that births the mortal conflict that manifests itself in Vere's dying words as Billy Budd's name is repeated over and over. In the Holy Bible, the Angel Rafael tells the boy Tobias, "Do that which is right and no harm shall come to thee." The honorable Captain vere can likely be found living in close accord with this principle as described by his treatment of subordinates, peers, and in his fair practices. In dealings with disciplinary and corrective actions on his ship, Vere is noted as "never tolerating an infraction of discipline." Sadly enough, it is this same righteous and admirable principle that undoubtedly forces Vere's hand in Blly's death.

Understanding Vere's upright practices and life add up to a significant wealth of information in light of why he was forced to reluctantly put Billy Budd to death. However, to understand from whence was birthed the conflict in Vere's death, it is necessary to couple this information with his appreciation of, and potentially love for Billy Budd as a sailor and a man. One line best encapsulates his feelings regarding Billy as he comments on his difficult, yet ordered actions following Claggart's death. Captain Vere speaks volumes of Billy Budd when he says, "struck by an angel of God! Yet the angel must hang!" (Perkins 1657)

This profound statement simultaneously addresses Vere's feelings about Budd in addition to the action he must take despite these feelings and his observation of Budd's somewhat innocence and inherent goodness. As the text goes on to illustrate through Budd's saint-like, almost angelic passing, and the crew's congregational repetition of Budd's dying words, he clearly passed on to the next world in a state of peace with himself, his actions, the crew, Captain Vere, and his soul. In fact, Budd's famous line, "God bless Captain Vere" (Perkins 1669) directly expresses his state of peace regarding Captain Vere and the tough decision he makes.

It is my sincere belief that Vere's repeating Billy Budd's name reflects a similar parting view of this climactic crossroads that both gentlemen faced in their lives. Though the incident ultimately precipitated Budd's death, Vere's dying words illustrate the lasting effect of the events that transpired concerning Billy Budd and the undeniable challenge presented to Vere. As included in the piece, Vere feels no remorse with regard to his decision. However, it is clear that in his dying moments he is contemplative with and somewhat troubled by the ends to which his strick adherence to laws and codes guided him. As evidenced by Captain Vere's vague utterances of Budd's name, in contrast to Billy Budd's statement of closure, in passing Vere struggles with the finality of his decision and the condemnation that accompanied his decision to do what was technically right. On his dying lips is the conflict that results from not bending the rules the one time he knew he probably should have in an effort to save the worthiest vessel of all. __________________________________________________________
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