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Good Versus Evil in Billy Budd

            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 Although it remained unpublished .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 .

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