Billy Budd Essay

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Esdale is a doctoral candidate in the Poetics Program at SUNY-Buffalo. In the following essay, he analyzes the self-conscious narration that exists in contrast to the apparent lack of self-consciousness in Billy Budd.

Herman Melville's Billy Budd has produced an astonishing diversity of equally plausible interpretations. Most critics consider finally whether they approve or condemn Captain Vere' s decision to try and execute the sailor Billy Budd for the murder of the officer John Claggart. Invariably critics include in their analysis a statement made by the novel's narrator near the end that ostensibly apologizes for the meandering style and the unresolved questions: "Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges." Following this proposition, the narrator concludes the history of Billy with three sequels - on the further adventures of the ship, the doomed captain, and the venerated spar from which Billy was hung - and a poem...

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This section contains 2,341 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Billy Budd Study Guide
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Billy Budd from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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