Books and Movies Reviews

BillyBudd&The Symbolism Within

In the book “Billy Budd”, written by Herman Meville, there are many references to the bible.Billy Budd, the main character, is portrayed as a biblical figure that is caught in the real world of war and mutiny.There are also many other different types of symbolism throughout this book.
The story starts out in the eighteenth century, on the H.M.S Rights-of-Man, a British naval ship.Billy Budd is pressured into service on a warship, the H.M.S. Bellipotent and here is where his life changes forever.
Melville uses Biblical allusions in defining his characters.There are obvious symbolic references of Billy Budd as a Jesus figure, or as Adam in the Garden of Eden.But what role does Claggart play in this Biblical metaphor?Claggart is carefully described throughout the story as having a dark and sinister countenance.Physically, his face is pale and sickly, his hair black.He contrasts greatly with the rosy cheeks, and blonde hair of Billy Budd.Because of his pallid complexion, Claggart stays out of the sun most of the time.Therefore, he is often described as surrounded by darkness, and lurks in the shadows of the ship, much like a snake spends much time hiding under rocks.In addition, Claggart is responsible for the false accusations of Billy’s involvement with the mutiny.
In the Biblical allegory of this story, Claggart fits into the role of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, whose devious and evil spirit helps bring about the fall of Adam and Eve.In the Biblical story, the serpent convinces Eve to take the fruit that God has commanded her not to eat, promising that it will bring her God-like powers.Here, Claggart is similar to the serpent in his deceitfulness, telling Captain Vere that Billy Budd is implicated in the ship’s mutiny.Billy actually attempted to subdue the attempts of a mutiny by refusing to accept the two gold pieces offered to him to take part.But the evil Claggart easily distorts even Billy…

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