Major Works Data Sheet
1. Title: Billy Budd
2. Author: Herman Melville
3. Date of Publication: 1924 (posthumously)
4. Historical Information: As divulged to the reader, Billy Budd takes place in 1797 in the midst of the French Revolution. Throughout the mid- 1790s, Britain enacted new quota requirements to enlist 45,000 men in the Royal Navy, which was filled by means of volunteers, the Quota Acts, and most popularly, the impressing of men from merchant ships, as Melville demonstrates. Actual events that occurred in April and May of 1797 were the Spithead and Nore Mutinies, these incidents were offset by the despicable onboard conditions, the severe punishments and increasingly sparse pay while at sea. The pitying…show more content…
The ability for Melville to explain this says so much about his capabilities as a writer. In Chapter 19, right as Claggart is accusing Budd, the author carefully paints an intricate picture so the reader has a clear understanding of the scene: With the measured step and calm collected air of an asylum-physician approaching in the public hall some patient beginning to show indications of a coming paroxysm, Claggart deliberately advanced within short range of Billy, and mesmerically looking him in the eye, briefly recapitulated the accusation. Not at first did Billy take it in. When he did, the rose-tan of his cheek looked struck as by white leprosy. He stood like one impaled and gagged. Meanwhile the accuser's eyes removing not as yet from the blue dilated ones, underwent a phenomenal change, their wonted rich violet color blurring into a muddy purple. Those lights of human intelligence losing human expression, gelidly protruding like the alien eyes of certain uncatalogued creatures of the deep. The first mesmeric glance was one of serpent fascination; the last was as the hungry lurch of the torpedo-fish (70-71).
Through the author’s word choice, the intense gravity of the scene is conveyed and his message is understood.
8. What literary devices did the author employ? What purposed was achieved with these devices?: There are copious examples of literary devices in the novella, but only three will be discussed. The first and foremost common device was that of