Billy Budd by Herman Melville is a tragic tale of men at sea. Billy Budd is a innocent man aboard the Indomitable who is accused of plotting mutiny by Claggart, the serpent like master-at-arms of the ship. The captain, a reasonable man, doubts Claggart's story and brings Billy in to confront Claggart. Although Captain Vere believes in Billy's innocence, naval law demands punishment, as a result, Billy is convicted and sent to be hanged. Through out the novel, Melville uses allusions to Biblical figures. Such as portraying Billy as a divine Christ like figure, Clagart to the Serpent in the garden of Eden or the devil, and Captain Vere as the Pontius Pilot in Rome. Throughout Billy Budd Biblical parallels such as the crucification of Jesus, the fall of the Garden of Eden, and the sacrifice of Isaac.
Captain Vere, may interestingly be compared to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, at the time of Jesus Christ's crucification.
It is said that Pilate believed in Jesus' innocence but was afraid to save him. Like Pilate, Vere condemns the innocent man to a disgraceful death, but unlike Pilate, he does not wash his hand, but manfully assumes the full responsibility, and in such a way as to take the half, if not more than the half, of the bitterness of the execution upon himself.