The story of Billy Budd

The story of Billy Budd - malevolence that lurks in an...

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The story of  Billy Budd,  since its publication in 1924, has inspired reams of critical controversy.  Central to some of the critical disputes is the determination of the motif, or controlling pattern, around  which Melville fashioned the plot. The possibilities generated by this wealth of criticism are  numerous. For example, the novel has been described as: a simple allegory of the struggle between good and evil a symbolic tale of a boyish Christ, his physical destruction by evil, and the  resulting resurrection of his spirit through the other sailors' admiration of his virtues a recreation of Adam and his destruction by Satan the embodiment of coming of age through the stereotypical son who must justify his  acts to an authoritative father figure the story of a blameless journeyman or pilgrim who falls victim to the cynical 
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Unformatted text preview: malevolence that lurks in an imperfect world • the struggle of everyman against the machinery of arbitrary justice • the story of an innocent man caught up in the zeitgeist, or spirit of the times • a tragedy in which Billy Budd, flawed by a single blemish, serves as a victim caught in the finer points of law • an ironic sea tale set in a milieu of wartime violence • the author's personal protest against repression in society • a diatribe against the falseness of the Christian faith as applied to real situations Whatever pattern the reader comprehends in the story, the complexity of the interwoven characterizations of Billy, Claggart, and Vere refutes any attempt to trivialize the novel by tidy, one-dimensional analysis....
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