Billy Budd - Thoreau and Melville

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Billy Budd - Thoreau and Melville

The story of Billy Budd provides an excellent scenario in which to compare and contrast Thoreau and Melville. The topics of government-inspired injustice and man's own injustice to man can be explored through the story. Thoreau's position is one of lessened government and enhanced individualism, while Melville's is one of group unity and government's role to preserve order. The opinions of Melville and Thoreau outline the paradox of government: Government cannot exist without man, and man cannot exist without government.

One of the downfalls of both man and government is jealousy, and the H.M.S Bellipotent is no exception. Claggart is a jealous, hateful person who has made
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One of the points Thoreau makes is his concept that democracies are only beneficial to the majority, not however the most virtuous. He explains that, "Why does [the majority-led government] always crucify Christ" this points out that though it was a majority decision it certainly was not the wisest. Thoreau then goes on to say how with a majority democracy you have that one majority entrenched, which makes it very difficult for those with true virtues and morals pursue justice. This belief can be associated with Thoreau's view on democracy, he says that participating in it strips you of morals and that compromise, the key to democracy, makes you a moral sellout.

A final controversial stand Thoreau takes against man and government is that it is mans duty to not participate in the injustices created by the government and his fellow man. He made an example out his own thoughts by not paying taxes for six years, and spending the night in jail for them. Thoreau also states that one should not follow the government if it requires you to perform injustices, he in turn suggest you be the `counter-friction' in the political machine in hopes of making it wear away sooner. In addition to that, he comments on the rich and how they continually sellout their virtues to the institution that helped get them to their place of power and wealth. He suggests

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