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Billy Budd By Herman Melville Term Paper Over The Short Story Billy Budd, His Life, Why He Wrote The Book, And Religious Symbolism.

6016 words - 24 pages

BILLY BUDD, SAILORBY HERMAN MELVILLEIn December 1885, Herman Melville finally retired from his job at the New York Custom House. Unable to support himself through his writing, he had been working there for 19 years as a customs inspector. He was 66 years old, and he had not written fiction in almost 30 years, though he had been writing and publishing poetry steadily. At some point during the following two years, he began to work on a poem that would eventually be called "Billy in the Darbies," about a mutinous sailor, shackled aboard ship, awaiting his execution. The poem was intended for inclusion in a volume of poetry to be called John Marr and other Sailors (1888), and Melville wrote a prose headnote to accompany it. Then the story began to grow and change in Melville's imagination, and he returned to it, expanding the headnote into a novella that he would revise throughout the remaining years of his life.At the time of Melville's death in 1891, the manuscript of the novella was sequentially complete, but Melville was still revising its language and thematic emphases. In addition, the manuscript itself was found in a condition of such physical disarray that the presentation of an authoritative version became difficult, if not impossible. The novella was finally published in 1924, its text edited by Raymond Weaver and given the title Billy Bud, Foretopman; a subsequent edition was produced for Harvard University Press by F. Barron Freeman in 1948. Critical dissatisfaction with the choices made by both of these editors led to the production of a new "reading text" by Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr. in 1962, which they presented with a lengthy commentary explaining their editorial decisions and a "genetic text," a literal transcription of the surviving leaves of Melville's manuscript. In addition Hayford and Sealts changed the title of the novella from Billy Budd, Foretopman to Billy Budd, Sailor (An Inside Narrative), which appears on the first page of Melville's manuscript.Why had the author of Moby-Dick (1851) stopped writing fiction for so long? When Moby-Dick was published, Melville was quite well known as a writer of sea tales. He had already published Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847), two semiautobiographical novels based on his experience a decade earlier as a sailor in the South Seas. Melville's third novel, Mardi (1849), was less popular then its predecessors because of its radical experimentation with narrative style, and Melville returned briefly to more conventional forms of narrative: in the year before he began to write Moby-Dick, Melville published two novel, Redburn (1849) and White-Jacket (1850), which he descried as "two jobs, which I have done for money- being forced to it, as other men are to sawing wood." By the spring of 1850, Melville had become a father, and that summer, full of confidence in his new writing project- the "whaling voyage"- Melville moved his family to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he bought a...

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Study Guide for "Billy Budd" by Herman Melville

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626 words - 3 pages person of good also processes a truthfulness that is as strong as stone. Billy Budd also showed his truthfulness by not lying about his crime and getting hung on what he felt was right. Budd truly describes a person of goodness because of his love for life and his loyalty to others and to himself.Evil is completely the opposite of good. Evil is committing sin towards others and also to yourself. Claggart was a perfect example of evil. His high rank

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885 words - 4 pages , and Billy finds himself confronted with two curious sailors. Unsure of how to explain the situation, Billy explains that he simply happened upon a fellow sailor who was in the wrong part of the ship, and chased the man back to his proper station.      Later on, after a short battle with an enemy ship, Claggart approaches Captain Vere with news of mutiny and names Billy Budd as the ringleader. Vere calls Billy to his

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708 words - 3 pages enemy. Claggart later wishes to have Billy punished, so he lies to the captain of the ship, saying that Billy Budd is the leader of a rebellion. Claggart's blatant lies angers Billy to the point where he can't think of a response and thus hits Claggart on the head. This is the turning point for Billy, as he is momentarily converted from gentle and loving to vicious and aggressive. Billy is completely shocked by his own actions, and saddened

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