Billy Budd

An analysis of Herman Melville’s tale of a young sailor, Billy Budd.

This paper discusses Herman Melville’s story “Billy Budd” which took him 3 years to complete. It analyzes the two main characters of the story, Budd and Claggart, as well as dwells upon some of the many symbols and themes found throughout the book.
“Although Billy Budd is portrayed as the epitome of innocence, he is not naive. He is a popular man, who has no problems dealing with other men. He is “illiterate and ignorant even of whom his father was, since he is a foundling, in whom, nevertheless, “noble descent” is as evident as “in a blood horse.”” (Chase, 157) Budd does not seem to be aware of this however, as Melville portrays him as an instinctively “upright barbarian” and an image “of young Adam before the Fall.” It is apparent that Melville is thinking in Biblical terms when he comments that a person of such untainted innocence seems to have been “exceptionally transmitted from a period prior to Cain’s city and citified man. (Chase, 157).