Critical Essay On Billy Budd
This is the first 1,000 characters of 505 words (2.02 pages) in the essay titled Critical Essay On Billy Budd
|Critical Essay On Billy Budd
Critical Essay on Billy Budd
Charles Reich's assessment of the conflict in Billy Budd focuses on the
distinction between the laws of society and the laws of nature. Human law says
that men are "the sum total of their actions, and no more." Reich uses this as a
basis for his assertion that Billy is innocent in what he is, not what he does.
The point of the novel is therefore not to analyze the good and evil in Billy or
Claggart, but to put the reader in the position of Captain Vere, who must
interpret the laws of both man and nature.
Reich supports Vere's decision to hang Billy. In defense of this he
alludes to a famous English court case, in which three men were accused of
murder. However, the circumstances which led them to murder were beyond their
control; they had been stranded at sea and forced to kill and eat their fourth
companion, who had fallen ill and was about to die anyway. The Judge, Lord
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