Many themes relating to the conflict between Good and Evil can be .
found in Herman Melville's novella Billy Budd, Foretopman. First originating .
as a poem about a middle-aged man on the eve of his execution, Billy Budd .
is the only true work of fiction written by Melville (Bloom, Critical Views .
198). The idea for the novella was probably suggested in part by an incident .
in 1842 in which a midshipman and two seamen of the American brig Somers .
were hanged at sea for mutiny (Voss 44). Although it remained unpublished .
for until almost half a century after Melville's death, Billy Budd quickly .
became one of his most popular works (Bloom, Critical Views 198). .
Perhaps one of the most widely recognized themes in Billy Budd is the .
corruption of innocence by society (Gilmore 18). Society in Billy Budd is .
represented by an eighteenth century English man-of-war, the H.M.S. .
Bellipotent. Billy, who represents innocence, is a young seaman of twenty-one .
who is endowed with physical strength, beauty, and good nature (Voss 44). .
A crew member aboard the merchant ship Rights of Man, Billy is impressed .
by the English navy and is taken aboard the H.M.S. Bellipotent. As he .
boards the H.M.S. Bellipotent, he calmly utters, "Goodbye, Rights of Man," a .
farewell to his ship and crewmates. However, this farewell is not only meant .
for his ship, but for his actual rights as well, the rights that would have kept .
him innocent until proven guilty under a normal society (Gilmore 18). The .
society represented by the H.M.S. Bellipotent is much different from that of .
the outside world, as the various laws and regulations in effect during war .
turn a civilized society into more of a primitive state. The rights that are .
fought for during war were no longer possessed by the men on board the .
Bellipotent in an attempt to keep order as best as possible (Gilmore 18). .
Billy was impressed by the English navy because of a need for good .
sailors. The Rights of Man cannot survive in the war-torn waters of the .