Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
A STEP BEYOND
TESTS AND ANSWERS
_____ 1. Billy Budd moved from the ship The Rights of Man to the Bellipotent by virtue of
B. the King's naval transfer ordinance
B. the appearance of the handsome African sailor
C. the lack of information about his upbringing
B. making him a stutterer
C. eliminating any love interest
B. family's influence
C. scholarship in the area of naval encounters
C. Lieutenant Ratcliffe
B. "a motiveless malignity"
C. "the razor edge between love and hate"
B. Shakespearean quotations
B. "the silencing of malice"
C. "a mystery of iniquity"
B. brought some fleeting comfort to Billy
C. enabled Billy to show his innate purity
B. "God, find it in your heart to forgive me"
C. "How like an angel"
B. the attempted bribe from the conspirator
C. Squeak's report
B. returned to The Rights of Man
C. complimented for his refusal to join in the mutiny
B. Captain Vere's suspicion of him
C. his isolation from the crew
14. Though Billy Budd can be read in many ways, basically it's about the confrontation of good and evil. Discuss.
15. Analyze the character of Captain Vere, giving at least two different ways of looking at him. Which do you think is right?
16. What is the role of law in Billy Budd?
17. In Chapter 28, the narrator says Billy Budd lacks "symmetry of form" because it tells the truth. Discuss the form of Billy Budd with reference to this statement.
18. Melville subtitled Billy Budd "An inside narrative." What did he mean by this?
19. Discuss the impact of biblical allusions on the meaning and development of Billy Budd's character.
14. In answering this question, you'll first define good and evil in terms of how they're represented in the characters. In Chapters 1 and 2 you get a good picture of Billy as the Handsome Sailor, an outline of his moral qualities, and comparisons with Adam. Chapters 11, 12 and 13 focus on the "mystery of iniquity" as embodied in Claggart. These two figures are the exemplars of good and evil, but the picture is a bit more complicated because Billy's goodness and innocence conceal violence, and Claggart is once (in Chapter 17) compared to Christ, the man of sorrows. You'll then look at the climax of the book, Chapter 19, to see the most dramatic confrontation between good and evil and then at Billy's death in Chapter 25. How does Captain Vere fit into the drama of good and evil? Is Melville's final point that good and evil must both be present in this world? Or does Billy's death indicate that good can rise above evil and attain some divine and eternal redemption?
15. Begin your discussion by presenting the facts about Vere's character that appear in Chapters 6 and 7. As you present the facts on his background and personality, write out the various interpretations these facts are open to. Details you should focus on include his reading tastes, his nickname, his qualities as a leader.
You should explore the way Vere handles himself with Billy and Claggart by looking at Chapters 18 and 19 and particularly at the trial scene in Chapter 21. Make sure you cover such issues as whether you think Vere is insane, how his argument to execute Billy holds up, and what effect his sympathy for Billy has on all overall view of his character. Finally, you should analyze Vere's death in Chapter 28 and go through some differing interpretations of it.
Throughout, you'll want to subtly slant your discussion to highlight your own personal opinion. When you present your view at the end, it should seem obvious you are right!
16. For this question you should explore the issues brought up in Billy's trial scene in Chapter 21. There are several codes of law invoked in the book: Natural Law, the King's' Law, and God's Law at the Last Judgment. Discuss each one in turn and compare their bearings on Billy's case. Vere rejects Natural Law and God's Law and says that only the King's Law applies to Billy and his deed. If you think Vere is wrong, you might show it by describing his death and pointing out ways you would have humanized the law, perhaps by pardoning Billy. You could end your discussion with a more philosophical consideration of whether human law can ever be adequate in a case like this.
17. First look at the overall pattern of the book: the digressions, alternation of short and long chapters, character analyses of Billy, Vere, and Claggart followed by scenes of rapid action, and then the last third of the book, including the trial scene, Billy's powerful and visual death, and the newspaper article and poem that conclude the story. You could say that the book lacks symmetry of form because Melville wanted to look at his situation from so many different perspectives, and he felt that his loose, flexible structure would better convey the complex reality of the themes. Also discuss what he means by "truth" and whether Billy Budd, though a work of fiction, really captures a deeper truth than either a history book or a simply told "symmetrical" novel could. Perhaps you'll want to conclude that, on a fundamental level, Billy Budd does, in fact, achieve symmetry of form in a coherent balance of themes, moral issues, and symbols.
18. The best way to answer this question is to develop three or four meanings of inside narrative and compare each one in turn.
19. Billy is directly compared to Adam several times in the book (Chapter 2, Chapter 18), and he becomes a symbol for Christ at his death in Chapter 25. You'll want to begin your answer by retelling the story of Adam's Fall from innocence and drawing parallels between it and Billy's own story. Then you should draw upon the parallels between Adam and Christ and explore how these parallels relate to Billy. Adam and Christ are innocents, but Christ came down to redeem Adam's sin. Is Billy a Christ figure in this way? Explain how he's different from Christ, especially in the scene with Claggart (Chapter 19). You might end your discussion by considering the way in which these allusions turn Billy Budd into a symbolic drama.
TERM PAPER IDEAS
© Copyright 1984 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.