Herman Melville's novel, Billy Budd, tells the story of a young man who is recruited by the British Navy to the H.M.S. Bellipotent. He is received well by most of his fellow sailors who like Billy Budd are often alluded to people and stories from the Bible. Most critics agree that these allusions serve as a basis to which a character or event is to be analyzed. There are many blatant allusions in this novel as well as subtle ones that require a closer analysis. These biblical allusions in Billy Budd provide the reader with a better understanding of many of the main characters and events including Billy Budd's comparison with Jesus Christ.
In Billy Budd there are many similarities between the story of the fall of man and the roles of Billy, the foretopman; Claggart, the master-at-arms; and Vere, the Captain. In this novel Billy shows many similarities to Adam (Study 24). Billy possesses a masculine beauty, a brute strength, and a superior code of morals above his shipmates. "Captain Vere congratulates his officers on gaining in Billy, "such a fine specimen of the genus homo who, in the nude might have posed for the statue of young Adam before the fall- (Miller 220). This allusion makes the reader reflect on the creation of Adam who was perfect in body, mind, and spirit. .
Both Billy and Adam also failed in their tests of perfection. Billy's one flaw occurs whenever he becomes excited. Billy is unable to speak without stuttering. In addition to this, whenever provoked, Billy is unable to control his anger (Padilla 1). It is because of this flaw that Billy loses his life. Adam's flaw was eating the fruit that resulted in his eventual death and loss of supernatural life. "When confronted with obeying the will of a greater authority, both Adam and Billy Budd fell, bringing death to themselves- (Padilla 1). Adam's greater authority that he disobeyed was obviously God who blatantly told him not to eat of the fruit.