The Hanging of Billy Budd in Melville's Billy Budd

Topics: Death Penalty, Hanging, Billy Budd Pages: 2 (699 words) Published: April 13, 2002
The Hanging of Billy Budd The hanging of Billy in Melville's Billy Budd was a questionable and complex decision made by Captain Vere. Captain Vere, or "starry Vere," chose to coincide with the law rather than spare Billy to make himself happy. The hanging of Billy was necessary for order to remain on the ship and for justice to prevail. Billy Budd, also known as the "handsome sailor," was on trial for killing the master-at-arms, Claggart. Everyone wished for Billy's life to be spared, but Captain Vere chose to follow the oath he pledged to the King. Consequently, Billy was given the death penalty and hanged. Billy Budd's death was presided on very questionable cicumstances although he was liked by everyone, he was accused of mutiny abored ship, and the murder

of the Master at arms Claggert. His death was looked st as a tragedy by all abored ship even Captain Vere who made the decision to hang Billy, but it was the only decision which could have been made to keep the ship and the shipsmen from rebelling and killing all those people of higher command

Everyone on the ship enjoyed Billy's presence, except Claggart. He was described to be a "sweet, pleasant fellow" (pg. 5). Captain Vere liked Billy as much or more than the others, "…they all loved him!" (pg. 6) Because of this, he wondered what the best choice was: save Billy, or hang him? The decision to hang Billy was, in retrospect, the right one. If Captain Vere chose not to hang Billy, no one would have learned from his mistakes-including Billy himself. Lack of punishment can lead to severe problems; Billy was so well liked by everyone, Captain Vere was in a very difficult situation. It was very unlike Billy to ever do something so rash; he brought out the best in everyone. Captain Vere felt in his heart that Billy's actions were a mistake, but he could not be sure. The accusation Claggart made was mutiny, and mutiny was a serious crime. Vere had no proof that Billy was not guilty, so for the safety of...
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