Billy Budd, by Herman Melville. Was Captain Vere Right?

Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 11th gradeA+, January 1997

download word file, 2 pages 4.0

Downloaded 69 times

CaptainVere makes the right decision by executing Billy Budd. If CaptainVere lets Billy

live the rest of the crew might get the impression that they will not be held accountable for

their crimes. If the crew feels that they can get away with what ever they want then there

is a chance that they might form a rebellion and have a mutiny. A mutiny would destroy

the stability and good name of the ship and the crew. Captain Vere does not want to see

this happen. There are three main reasons Captain Vere makes the right decision by

executing Billy Budd. These reasons are that if Billy lives then a mutiny might occur,

because the law states that a crime as severe as Billy's is punishable by death, and Captain

Vere feels sorry for Billy and does not want Billy to suffer with guilt until a martial court

could give a decision.

If Billy is not executed then corruption might occur on the ship and cause a

mutiny. Captain Vere knows that a mutiny might occur and does not want it to happen.

Captain Vere could possibly be using Billy's execution for his crime of killing Claggart as

an example for the rest of the crew. It shows the crew what will happen to them if they

try to start a mutiny. After Billy's death CaptainVere obviously feels regret for executing

Billy. Captain Vere's last words are "Billy Budd, Billy Budd" (p. 76) show an example of

this. Those last words might symbolize that Captain Vere killed Billy for the wrong

reasons. If CaptainVere uses Billy's death for an example to the rest of the crew then it

might not necessarily be the wrong reason. CaptainVere has to decide between one life

and the lives of the entire crew.