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Billy Budd And Ivan Illych Essay

1136 words - 5 pages

Melville’s Billy Budd,Sailor and Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Illych are both well-known short stories. Melville’s Billy Budd comes from the era of Romanticism, while The Death of Ivan Illych comes about later on in the Realism era. There are many similarities and differences between the two short stories. We know already that one big difference is that both of the stories come from different time periods. One great thing about both of the stories is that both Billy Budd and Ivan Illych’s stories make Biblical references. Billy is seen as a Christ figure that lives a good life, while Ivan lives a life full of sin and cares more about material items rather than living for God.
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After everything Billy endured he still was able to maintain his self. When Billy lost his rights to the service, he had plenty of opportunities of jumping off deck or going crazy. Instead Billy embraces the experience and never complains.
In the story The Death of Ivan Illych, by Tolstoy, one will see positive and negative characteristics that the entire human race is guilty of. Ivan Illych in the story is very materialistic. Ivan cares deeply about what others think of him and his lifestyle. Ivan has to have the best of everything. Ivan admits in the story that the only reason he married his wife was because “she was connected, sweet, and pretty and sympathized with his views (1339).” His friends also approved of the match. Once they had children their marriage went downhill fast. We see that both Ivan and his wife are too caught up in decorating the house rather than working on their marriage. On the contrary Billy is far away from his home and family and still manages enjoying life for what it is. Billy appreciates all that God has given. Just life alone is seen to be good enough for Billy.
In both stories Ivan and Billy Budd are seen to be well liked by their friends and peers. Ivan is seen by his friends in society to be “amusing, witty, good nature and good mannered (1338).” In Melville’s Billy Budd, Billy is constantly described as having “unpretentious good looks and a sort of genial happy-go-lucky air.” Melville consciously wants to get across to the reader the description of Billy to show one how innocent and childlike he is. Billy is seen very much as a Christ figure. Melville uses many biblical references when describing Billy’s character. Billy’s upbringing is described in the text as “little more than a sort of upright barbarian” and “one to whom not has been proffered the questionable apple of knowledge.” This description of Billy’s life shows that just like Adam and Eve he too had the choice of living a pure or evil life. Billy on Captain Vere’s ship is faced with the reality of the cruel world. Lastly, we see once more how Billy represents the Christ like figure. Right before Billy’s death Billy cries out...

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