Billy Budd is a narrative masterpiece penned by the American author Herman Melville It is a novella published posthumously, which is a prose fiction work comprised of fewer than fifty thousand words, and is considered one of Melville’s undisputed masterpieces. Billy Budd is a complex story about good and evil--a discussion about human nature, morality, and justice. It tells the story of Billy Budd, a sailor on the English ship, who is unjustly accused of a crime he did not commit. The story revolves around his relationship with Captain Vere and how Vere must decide to choose between justice and mercy.
One of the most interesting essay topics related to Billy Budd is to explore the theme of good and evil. This can be done by examining how Billy Budd is portrayed as the embodiment of innocence and goodness, while Claggart is the epitome of wickedness and entrapment. Through exploring each character, the essay can discuss how Melville plays with the idea of good and evil and how they interact in the narrative.
Another essay topic could focus on the concept of innocence and justice. Billy Budd is a perfect example of an individual with a strong sense of justice, who will not be sway by the temptations of the world. He is righteous and refuses to be a prisoner of his own conscience. The essay could explore how justice is portrayed in the novella and how it ultimately affects Billy Budd’s fate.
A third essay topic can explore the role of language in the novel. Language plays an important role in Billy Budd as it is used to convey a range of messages between the characters. The essay can discuss how Melville uses language to show that communication is not always successful and can cause misunderstandings between the characters. It can also examine how different characters use language to manipulate and deceive.
A fourth essay topic could examine the concept of loyalty in the novella. Loyalty is a major theme which is used to illustrate the power and control of authority figures. The essay could explore how Billy’s loyalty is tested and whether it leads to his downfall or ultimately saves him. Through exploring the different characters’ struggles to maintain loyalty, the essay can examine how loyalty influences decisions and actions.
Finally, the essay could discuss the symbolic elements in Billy Budd. Symbols are used throughout the novella to represent ideas and concepts. The essay should discuss how symbols are used to represent the themes of good and evil, justice and mercy, and morality in the novel. It can also explore how symbols are used to convey the characters’ inner struggles and emotions.