Billy Budd Essay

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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Often a person is torn between doing his duty, and doing what is right. This is a common problem to many people in everyday life, a problem that can have terrible results, such as death. Many authors have had to deal with making a tough choice, and so they try to capture the struggle between duty and heart in their books. A prime example of this is Billy Budd by Herman Melville. In this novel, Captain Vere was the man who found himself in a difficult position, where he had a hard decision to make. Billy had murdered the master-at-arms on board the ship, and so his punishment in military law was for Billy to be hung. It was the captain's duty to see this sentence carried out. On the other hand, Captain Vere cared a great deal for Billy, as Billy was a good sailor and a good man, and the captain didn't want to see harm come to Billy.

The captain was torn between his duty and his heart.

A person's emotions can often interfere with a person's duty. A captain aboard a ship during a time of war is given specific orders, orders he must obey without question. Yet at times, as in the case of Captain Vere, those orders can be very hard to carry out. Captain Vere was the captain abroad the "Indomitable." He was 40 years old, and a distinguished sailor. He was greatly admired among his men, because of his unassuming appearance and manner. Captain Vere was a well-educated man who would spend hours reading his great collection of books at sea. He was very conscious of the world around him, and he has considered the role he plays in the world around him with an open mind. Knowing his personality and these...