Melville's Billy As True Innocent

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Melville's Billy as true innocent


Billy Bud was a mere example of gentle looks and innocence. Someone placed him on the doorsteps while he was an infant. However, soon he reached his twenty's, he became quite popular for his good looks and placidness. He was sheer incorruptibility from top till bottom that made him very popular. Nevertheless, his purity proved to be disturbing for others since it seemed as if he had and could never encounter any evil in the society. He was unable to distinguish between 'good' and 'bad' people. This was the reason mainly that he could not see the ill intentions of the people who were jealous of him. He joined the seamen services of His Majesty the King of England. This made him an ideal image of 'handsome' sailor which was a comprehensive romantic image of a 'desirable' man. The story is about the nature of purity he had that caused him even losing his life. In other words, he became the victim of his own innocence. The violence that emerges in the wake of this suspension is what Robespierre famously called "prompt, severe, inflexible justice," "an emanation of virtue" that springs forth in the hour of the "homeland's most pressing needs." (21).


The characters in the story tend to depict the societal norms in those times and most the traits are too persistent that one can find them still present in the society today. Melville has tried to highlight the evil traits of the people and the society together in the context of innocence of the boy. Billy was indeed a handsome young man with striking looks. He had several exceptions that were positive and negative in nature. His eye-catching looks distinguished him from others but his innocence was too intense that let evil people take his advantage. He stammered that mostly made him under-estimate himself. In other words, his short comings made him impressed of others and feel low. "has the bursting open belonging to bringing-forth ... in itself," as Heidegger says). (10)

Although Billy was admired but could never develop the cautious pessimism of a character like Dansker while he was completely aware about the natural inclinations of man for evil. Billy seemed most helpless most of the time in the novel. He had no defense against a man full of abhorrence, Claggart. Claggart was always sarcastic and passed harsh comments about Billy. Even if it ...