Good and Evil in Billy Budd

Topics: Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Good and evil Pages: 4 (635 words) Published: December 27, 2012
Contrast Between Good and Evil in Billy Bud

Since the beginning of time, there has always been a

tenacious struggle between good and evil. In a particular famous book, The

Bible, the continuous clash between good and evil remains evident

throughout the work. In Herman Melville's novel, Billy Budd, symbolism,

characterization, and irony are put to use to develop the dramatic contrast

between good and evil.

Symbolism is used to directly contrast good and evil. The

night before Billy's hanging, "through the rose-tan of his complexion no

pallor could have shown." Billy portrays a very pure Christ-like

character before his demise. His white garb, and natural glowing of light

makes his death seem symbolic for good. Claggort "who's brow was of the

sort phrenologically associated with more than average intellect"

symbolically manipulated Billy Budd as did the "wisdom of the serpent"

manipulate Adam. Evil always tries to antagonize what is good. Therefore,

Claggort was Billy's antagonist throughout Billy Budd. Also symbolic to

the novel is the actual demise of both Claggort and Billy Budd. Claggort's

death is very short and appropriate "to his navel grade." In contrast,

Billy's death occurs during the dawn where " Billy ascended; and ascending

took the full rose of the dawn." Claggort's death completely contrasts

with the pure death of Billy Budd. Billy's death is portrayed as good,

conquering, and symbolic, which directly foils that of Claggort's. Not

only using symbolism, Melville also uses characterization to contrast good

and evil.

Characterization is used to contrast the concepts of good

and evil. Billy Budd is "like a young horse fresh from the pasture

suddenly inhaling a vile whiff from some chemical factory." Billy's

innocence and purity is exterminated...
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