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Billy Budd, Sailor | Study Guide

Herman Melville

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Billy Budd, Sailor | Characters

Character Description
Billy Budd Billy Budd is a young, handsome sailor whose innocence and serene temperament endear him to almost everyone on board the warship Bellipotent. Read More
John Claggart John Claggart is the master-at-arms, or chief police officer, of the ship. It's his job to keep order and enforce the rules. Read More
Captain Vere Captain Edward Vere is the captain and highest authority on the Bellipotent. As such he is anxious to maintain order and oversee regulations. Read More
Afterguardsman The afterguardsman is a mysterious sailor who awakens Budd and offers him two guineas for his cooperation in some unspecified conspiracy (likely a mutiny).
Albert Albert is Captain Vere's hammock boy who brings the accused Budd to Vere's cabin.
Chaplain The ship's chaplain realizes that Budd is at peace with his impending death. This serenity somewhat disconcerts the chaplain, but he acknowledges Budd's spiritual purity.
Dansker Budd's confidant on the ship, Dansker is an experienced and wise sailor and man of the world who sometimes advises Budd but frequently makes obscure and ominous statements whose meaning is unclear.
Captain Graveling Captain Graveling is the good-natured captain of the ship Rights-of-Man who is sorry to lose Budd to the Bellipotent.
Purser The "accountant" on the ship, Purser believes that Budd's death revealed Budd's supernatural will power.
Lieutenant Ratcliffe The boarding officer of the Bellipotent, Lieutenant Ratcliffe selects only Billy Budd from the Rights-of-Man to impress into service on the Bellipotent.
Red Pepper Red Pepper is a sailor who upbraids Budd for not taking action against another sailor who tried to lure him into corruption and conspiracy.
Red Whiskers Red Whiskers is a sailor on the Rights-of-Man who Budd hits. In contrast to the incident on the Bellipotent with Claggart, after being hit by Budd Red Whiskers feels his hatred of Budd turn to love for him.
Squeak Squeak is Claggart's underling in shipboard law enforcement and, essentially, an instrument for carrying out Claggart's plot against Billy Budd. Squeak is sly and nefarious (he fuels Claggart's hatred), and he torments Budd.
Surgeon The ship's surgeon affirms Claggart is dead; he also thinks Vere's decision on a trial and sentence is overhasty. He argues with the Purser, saying Budd's death was natural, not supernatural.
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