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Opposing forces in Billy Budd

            Since the beginning of time, there has always been a tenacious struggle between good and evil. In a particular famous book, The Bible, the continuous clash between good and evil remains evident throughout the work. In Herman Melville's novel, Billy Budd, symbolism, characterization, and irony are put to use to develop the dramatic contrast between good and evil. Billy goes through many obstacles where he has to face good and evil. Only when he is evil is when he does not survive.
             Symbolism is used to directly contrast good and evil. The night before Billy's hanging, "through the rose-tan of his complexion no pallor could have shown." Billy portrays a very pure Christ-like character before his demise. His white garb, and natural glowing of light makes his death seem symbolic for good. Claggort "who's brow was of the sort phrenologically associated with more than average intellect" Symbolically manipulated Billy Budd as did the "wisdom of the serpent" manipulate Adam. Evil always tries to antagonize what is good. Therefore, Claggort was Billy's antagonist throughout Billy Budd. Also symbolic to the novel is the actual demise of both Claggort and Billy Budd. Claggort's death is very short and appropriate "to his navel grade." In contrast, Billy's death occurs during the dawn where " Billy ascended; and ascending took the full rose of the dawn." Claggort's death completely contrasts with the pure death of Billy Budd. Billy's death is portrayed as good, conquering, and symbolic, which directly foils that of Claggort's. Not only using symbolism, Melville also uses characterization to contrast good and evil.
             Characterization is used to contrast the concepts of good and evil. Billy Budd is "like a young horse fresh from the pasture suddenly inhaling a vile whiff from some chemical factory." Billy's innocence and purity is exterminated at the hands of his main enemy, John Claggort, " much such as Adam presumably might have been ere the urbane Serpent wriggled himself into his company.

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