Billy Budd Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. How is discipline maintained on the Bellipotent?

2. What is John Claggart's responsibility on board the ship?

3. In chapter four, which sailor is hailed as the greatest of all time?

4. Which character does Squeak create lies about?

5. What is a possible cause for Claggart's behavior towards Billy?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why is Claggart "down" on Billy?

2. Who is Squeak?

3. How does the social climate on board a ship compare to the social climate on land?

4. Describe Billy Budd.

5. What advice does the Dansker give Billy about his confrontation with the afterguardsman?

6. How do ruling bodies on board a ship compare to ruling bodies on land?

7. How does Billy's innocence affect his ability to react to the afterguardsman's proposal?

8. How does Melville explain moral depravity?

9. What is a mutiny?

10. What is a "Handsome Sailor"?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss the difference between reporting illicit activities and tattling. Which factors prevent Billy from reporting the afterguardsman to the captain? What effect does not reporting the incident have on Billy's character? How might the outcome of the novel be different if Billy had chosen to report the afterguardsman to his superiors?

Essay Topic 2

Discuss Melville's theory of moral depravity. How does innate moral depravity compare to moral depravity caused by licentious (sexually immoral) living? What evidence does Melville give to prove that Claggart is suffering from a form of insanity that manifests itself as innate moral depravity?

Essay Topic 3

How is supernatural symbolism used throughout the novel? When Captain Vere presents Billy to the crew as a murderer, how do the supernatural symbols present during Billy's execution and burial contradict the captain's claims? How is supernatural symbolism used to honor Billy's memory and preserve the truth?

(see the answer keys)

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