Billy Budd, Sailor, by Herman Melville

Topics: Hero, Herman Melville, Billy Budd Pages: 2 (706 words) Published: April 3, 2006
Heroes are often from divine ancestry, and are noted for their feats of courage and nobility of purpose. Often a hero is someone who has risked, or even sacrificed their life. Billy Budd, Sailor, by Herman Melville, contains one hero named Billy Budd, the "angel of God" (1906). Claggart and Captain Vere contain some of the heroic characteristics, still Billy is the singe character that obtains all of the traits of a hero, and therefore is the most qualified to fill that position. While Melville strains to put some heroic attributions within each character of the story, Billy is the most prominent of all who are mentioned. Thus, Billy Budd is the one true hero within the entire story.

Claggart is "… the urban Serpent [who] wriggled himself into [Billy's] company" (1878). Being far from the hero of the story, Claggart is perceived as more of a villainous character. Claggart is in the story keeps "…incog. Nothing was known of his former life" (1886). This type of behavior could seem to suggest that Claggart is a hero, but does not want anyone to know so he conceals his identity. Rather, Claggart's actions seem to allude to suspicious activities, which Claggart wants to remain concealed. Melville also seems to suggest to the reader that Claggart is a devious character because of his words used to describe Claggart such as a serpent, Tecumseh, and "… the spokesman of the envious children of Jacob…" (1903). Even accusing Billy reveals the divine evil that Claggart obtains within his soul. Only a cursed spirit, such as Claggart, would be able to convict a person that is so naïve and pure or heart, like Billy Budd.

Although his decision determines the outcome of the book, Captain Vere is no more of a Hero than Claggart. Vere seems to stand by his values because he took an oath when he went into the office and stands beside his pledge for the entire story, never faltering. A hero though is not someone who follows the rules, but rather the person who...
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