Billy budd sailor thesis

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Flesh in the Word: Billy Budd, Sailor, Compulsory Homosociality, and the Uses of Queer Desire

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Billy Budd Essays

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High-quality papers. So let us improve your grades by taking care of your homework! Custom homework help. Your custom homework help is one click away! Order now. Check out how Homeworkfor. Billy, a foundling from Bristol , has an innocence, good looks and a natural charisma that make him popular with the crew.

Billy Budd, Sailor

His only physical defect is a stutter which grows worse when under intense emotion. He arouses the antagonism of the ship's master-at-arms , John Claggart. Claggart, while not unattractive, seems somehow "defective or abnormal in the constitution", possessing a "natural depravity. Melville further opines that envy is "universally felt to be more shameful than even felonious crime. When the captain, Edward Fairfax "Starry" Vere, is presented with Claggart's charges, he summons Claggart and Billy to his cabin for a private meeting.

Claggart makes his case and Billy, astounded, is unable to respond, due to his stutter. In his extreme frustration he strikes out at Claggart, killing him instantly. Vere convenes a drumhead court-martial.

Billy Budd Essay Examples

He acts as convening authority , prosecutor , defense counsel and sole witness except for Billy. He intervenes in the deliberations of the court-martial panel to persuade them to convict Billy, despite their and his beliefs in Billy's moral innocence. Vere says in the moments following Claggart's death, "Struck dead by an angel of God! Yet the angel must hang! Although Vere and the other officers do not believe Claggart's charge of conspiracy and think Billy justified in his response, they find that their own opinions matter little.

The martial law in effect states that during wartime the blow itself, fatal or not, is a capital crime. The court-martial convicts Billy following Vere's argument that any appearance of weakness in the officers and failure to enforce discipline could stir more mutiny throughout the British fleet. Condemned to be hanged the morning after his attack on Claggart, Billy before his execution says, "God bless Captain Vere! Created slowly over the last five years of his life, the novella Billy Budd represents Melville's return to prose fiction after three decades of only writing poetry.

He started it as a poem, a ballad entitled "Billy in the Darbies", which he intended to include in his book, John Marr and Other Sailors. Melville composed a short, prose head-note to introduce the speaker and set the scene. The character of "Billy" in this early version was an older man condemned for inciting mutiny and apparently guilty as charged.

He did not include the poem in his published book. Melville incorporated the ballad and expanded the head-note sketch into a story that eventually reached manuscript pages. This was the first of what were to be three major expansions, each related to one of the principal characters. The state of this manuscript has been described as "chaotic," with a bewildering array of corrections, cancellations, cut and pasted leaves, annotations inscribed by several hands, and with at least two different attempts made at a fair copy.

The composition proceeded in three general phases, as shown by the Melville scholars Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr. In three main phases he had introduced in turn the three main characters: first Billy, then Claggart, and finally Vere. As the focus of his attention shifted from one to another of these three principals, the plot and thematic emphasis of the expanding novel underwent consequent modifications within each main phase. Just where the emphasis finally lay in the not altogether finished story as he left it is, in essence, the issue that has engaged and divided the critics of Billy Budd.

After Melville's death, his wife Elizabeth, who had acted as his amanuensis on other projects, scribbled notes and conjectures, corrected spelling, sorted leaves and, in some instances, wrote over her husband's faint writing. She tried to follow through on what she perceived as her husband's objectives but her editing was confusing to the first professional editors, Weaver and Freeman, who mistook her writing for Melville's.

At some point Elizabeth Melville placed the manuscript in "a japanned tin box" [6] with the author's other literary materials, and it remained undiscovered for another 28 years.


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In August , Raymond M. Weaver, a professor at Columbia University , doing research for what would become the first biography of Melville, paid a visit to Melville's granddaughter, Eleanor Melville Metcalf, at her South Orange, New Jersey home. She gave him access to all the records of Melville which survived in the family: manuscripts, letters, journals, annotated books, photographs, and a variety of other material. Among these papers, Weaver was astonished to find a substantial manuscript for an unknown prose work entitled Billy Budd.

The Confined Gender:Rereading Billy Budd, Sailor From The Perspective Of "Gender Performativity"

In he published another version of the text which, despite numerous variations, may be considered essentially the same text. He believed he stayed closer to what Melville wrote, but still relied on Weaver's text, with what are now considered mistaken assumptions and textual errors. Subsequent editions of Billy Budd up through the early s are, strictly speaking, versions of one or the other of these two basic texts. After several years of study, in , Harrison Hayford and Merton M.