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
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...