Thursday, January 31, 2019
Free Billy Budd Essays: Justice in Billy Budd :: Billy Budd Essays
Billy Budd - Not well-nigh Divine jurist and Human Justice   Some have misinterpreted Melvilles Billy Budd as a story about the distinction among divine justice, on the one hand, and human justice, on the other. Heres a summary of the incorrect reading that leads to this conclusion When John Claggart falsely accuses Billy Budd of inciting mutiny, Captain Vere (whose name suggests truth) arranges a confrontation between the accuser and the accused. When Claggart shamelessly repeats the lie to Budds face and when Captain Vere insists that Budd defend himself and when Budd is struck obtuse (if you like) and, therefore, STRIKES Claggart who falls down dead, Captain Vere suddenly has a problem on his hands, a problem he did not bargain for. You see, he feels that Budd is impartial but he also knows that he has killed a superior officer, an wickedness punishable by death. Heres how Melville presents Captain Veres argument at the drumhead speak to   How can we adjudge to sum mary and shameful death a fissure creature innocent before God, and whom we feel to be so? - Does that body politic it aright? You sign sad assent. Well, I too feel that, the in effect(p) force of that. It is temperament. But do these buttons that we wear attest that our allegiance is to Nature? No, to the King. Though the ocean, which is inviolate Nature primeval, though this be the element where we egg on and have our being as sailors, yet as the Kings officers lies our duty in a sphere correspondingly natural? So little is that admittedly that, in receiving our commissions, we in the most important regards ceased to be natural giving agents. When war is declared are we, the commissioned fighters, previously consulted? We fight at command. If our judgments approve the war, that is but coincidence. So in other particulars. For suppose animadversion to follow these present proceedings. Would it be so much we ourselves that would condemn as it would be martial police force o perating through us? For that equity and the rigor of it, we are not responsible. Our vowed responsibility is this That however pitilessly that law may operate, we nevertheless adhere to it and administer it. . . .   To steady us a bit, let us recur to the facts. - In war-time at sea a man-of-wars man strikes his superior in grade, and the blow kills.