15 Oct 2009

Sample Essay: Whatever Book You Choose

This book is written by Retired General Harold Moore about the war they fought in Vietnam. The book particularly focuses the happenings at IL Drang valley in Vietnam. The battle that broke out at IL Drang valley was the biggest of all and it took lives of hundreds of U.S soldiers. General retired Moore gives a record of all those terrible moments that his battalion experienced in the battle. This battle was also one of the first U.S military operations which were carried out with the help of helicopter. There seems a realistic approach in the book because the author himself experienced the war and its aftermath. The author is conducting an in-depth analysis of the war and its effects on the lives of the ordinary soldiers.

General Moore was commanding the battalion of 1/7 Calvary in the LA Drang battle. In the book General gives a clear picture of the preparations that were made to cope up the situation which eventually gave rise to the conflict. This book is dealing with one of the bloodiest events of the 20th century which occurred in Vietnam War. Vietnam War is always associated with the sufferings of the U.S army when ever it is mentioned in the history. The author tells us about the war that many soldiers were unwilling to fight because of not knowing the cause of fighting.

The author describes the true General Moore wants the readers to understand the complications of the war and the circumstances that affect the psychology of the soldiers. This clearly shows that the book is all about to expose the disappointments of the War and the destruction it brought to the mankind. The book is the best source to estimate the human cost of the war. The book is about the people who think, fighting a war is a great and glorious experience, but after some time they find it to be a menace.

The bloody battle started when U.S army captured some of the Vietnamese soldiers from the northern part who told the military that another battalion was waiting for Americans to come and they were ready to kill each and every American. After a few hours the battle began when those soldiers contacted the 7th Calvary thus the bloodiest battle started and killing began. Vietnamese were ready to have a fight from the hills so the U.S army had to pay for it and in a few minutes of the battle more than 5 U.S soldiers were killed. General portrays the situation through a realistic approach by describing the situation where he only could hear the screams of the story of the battle in a very emotional way; how he was mourning on each and every soldier that fell on the ground with no life in him. General after hearing the news of battle flew to the valley of LA Drang on his helicopter. His emotionality touches the peak when he saw other soldiers dragging his soldier from a trench and yelled at them; “show some respect”. The battle lasted for days and sometimes it is said that enemies were as near to American line as anything. Sometimes they were just 75 feet from crossing the line. 274 U.S soldiers were killed in the bloody battle and that was probably the most terrible loss for the American nation and for General Moore as a commander, as he himself says it.

The book gives a painful picture of the deaths of the soldiers who were under the command of the author. General Moore had tears in eyes when he met with the wounded soldiers; he sent them back to America to start their lives once again. The book deals with the sufferings of the war and it is shown that the death is the only thing which occurs more than anything in that kind of a war. The purpose of writer is to show the effects of war on an ordinary soldier’s life. The writer is very successful in mixing the fictional and non-fictional element in the book that forces people to realize the deadly consequences of the war.

The author wants us to give attention to the main thing that is the loss of human beings as the cost U.S paid in the Vietnam War. The primary focus of the author is to recognize the talent which we lost in the form of dead soldiers in the war. The book has also to do with the psychology of soldiers which was most affected during the war. It deals with the changing psychology of soldiers when they saw their friends and colleagues dieing or getting hurt in front of them. The book makes you think about the loss of talent that we experienced in war, which could have done more good to human beings in form of fighting for human cause.

This book is an attempt to show people the facts about the war, who believe that the wars are short and glorious. It is an attempt to make people realize that the war is a pathetic way to kill innocent people just because of the fake ego and pride of a country. As an author and an army person himself he confesses the odds of a war. His writing depicts the regrets that he has for fighting the Vietnam War.

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06 Oct 2009

Sample Essay: History and Biography Spotlight of Georg Simmel

The term Sociological Imagination coined by C. Wright Mills (1959) describes the process of linking individual experiences with social institutions and ones place in history. Mills discusses three questions at the core of Sociological Imagination (pp.6-7). These are: 1. What is the structure of a particular society and how does it differ from other social orders 2. Where does this society stand in human history and what are its essential features? 3. What kind of men and women live in this society during this period and what is happening to them?

Georg Simmel was born in Berlin. He received his doctorate in 1881. He came from Jewish ancestry and was marginalized within the German academic system. He obtained a regular academic appointment after much struggle as late as 1914, at Strasbourg, far from Berlin. Despite tough circumstances, he wrote extensively on the nature of association, culture, social structure, the city, and the economy. His writings were read by Durkheim and Weber. Simmel contributed greatly to sociology and European intellectual life in the early part of this century. Among his most famous writings are The Metropolis and Mental Life (1903) and his best known book, The Philosophy of Money (1907). Simmel’s writings left a powerful impact on the Marxist scholar Georg Lukacs (1885-1971). His writings on the city and on money have been found quite useful by contemporary sociologists.

Simmel was influenced not only by all the three classical sociologists, but also by Kant and Hegel. In his discussions on social structures, the city, money, and modern society, there are similarities to analyses of Durkheim (problem of individual and society), Weber (effects of rationalization), and Marx (alienation). Simmel considered society to be an association of free individuals. “For Simmel, society is made up of the interactions between and among individuals, and the sociologist should study the patterns and forms of these associations, rather than quest after social laws” (Farganis, p. 133). An example of how Simmel examines individual and social relationship can be seen in his analysis of fashion. Simmel views fashion as developing in the city, “because it intensifies a multiplicity of social relations, increases the rate of social mobility and permits individuals from lower strata to become conscious of the styles and fashions of upper classes” (Ashley and Orenstein, p. 314).

Simmel began his inquiries from the bottom up, observing the smallest of social interactions and attempting to see how larger-scale institutions emerged from them. In doing so, he often noticed phenomena that other theorists missed. For example, Simmel observed that the number of parties to an interaction can effect its nature. The interaction between two people, a dyad, will be very different from that which is possible in a three-party relationship, or triad. (Farganis, p. 133)

2. Simmel’s study on money is considered a landmark work. It is his major work concerning money and the social meaning of money. Simmel is concerned with large social issues, and this work can be thought of as on a par with The Division of Labour of Durkheim, although not as extensive and thorough as Marx’s Capital or Weber’s Economy and Society. He is concerned with money as a symbol that impacts people and society. In modern society, money becomes an impersonal or objectified measure of value. For example, relations of domination and subordination become quantitative relationships of more and less money — impersonal and measurable in a rational manner. The use of money distances individuals from objects and also provides the means of overcoming this distance. The use of money allows much greater flexibility for individuals in society — to travel greater distances and to overcome person-to-person limitations. “Simmel thus suggests that the spread of the money form gives individuals a freedom of sorts by permitting them to exercise the kind of individualized control over “impression management…Even strangers become familiar and knowable identities insofar as they are willing to use a common but impersonal means of exchange. (Ashley and Orenstein, p. 326). The development of money form according to Simmel leads to the problem of personal identity leading to both positive and negative consequences. While, individual freedom is potentially increased greatly, but there are problems of alienation, fragmentation, and identity construction.

Marx’s notion of commodity and market place shares significant similarities with Simmel’s analysis. People within capitalist societies, according to Marx find their material life organized through the medium of commodities. They trade their labor-power (which is in Marx’ view a commodity) for a special commodity, money, and use that commodity to claim various other commodities produced by other people. The social nature of society is destroyed by the abstraction of commodites, in the sense that “use-value” (the usefulness of an object or action) is totally separated from “exchange-value” (the marketplace value of an object or action). However, Simmel did not see the use of money leading to exploitative social relationship in the same way as Marx does. His work may be seen as a supplement to Marx’s “Capital”. Simmel deals with money at various levels of abstraction as an economic, philosophical, sociological and psychological perspective in an attempt to develop through the concept of money a modern world-view.  Marx argues that money represents the abstract relationships of private property which have become detached from human relations of exchange. Money is the epitome of man’s alienation.

3. According to Simmel the division of labor is greatest and individuality as well as the individual freedom most developed in the metropolis or city. At the same time Simmel notes that for the individual this creates the “difficulty of asserting his own personality within the dimensions of metropolitan life.” (Farganis, p. 142). The growth of the city, the increasing number of people in the city, and the “brevity and scarcity of the inter-human contacts granted to the metropolitan man, as compared to the social intercourse of the small town” (Farganis, p. 143) makes the “objective spirit” dominate over the “subjective spirit.” This is quite similar to the Durkheim’s notion of collectivity (social solidarity) exerting pressure on individual in society.  Modern culture evaluated in terms of language, production, art, science etc. can be seen as diversifying and specializing. Simmel too, like Durkheim makes use of the analytical concept of the Division of Labor, for according to him, the growth of city is the result of the growth of the division of labour and the specialization in individual pursuits that is a necessary part of this. Subjective culture is “the capacity of the actor to produce, absorb, and control the elements of objective culture. In an ideal sense, individual culture shapes, and is shaped by, objective culture. The problem is that objective culture comes to have a life of its own.” (Ritzer, p.162). “The individual has become a mere cog in an enormous organization of things and powers which tear from his hands all progress, spirituality, and value in order to transform them from their subjective form into the form of objective life.” (Farganis, p. 143). This sounds much like Marx’s alienation, Durkheim’s anomie, or Weber’s rationalization, although Simmel associates this with the city, rather than with the society as a whole, as do the other classical writers.

Conclusion: Simmel’s sociology can be seen to share a great deal with those of the other classical sociologists although his focus on social structure and its dynamics is relatively less in comparison to Marx, Weber, or Durkheim. He did, however, on objectivity of social structure like Durkheim even as he retained the individual consciousness in the objective society perhaps under Kantian influence. His writing on money shows similarity with Marxian alienation and Weberian rationalism. His emphasis on social interaction and on money has been found quite useful in contemporary sociological research.


Ashley, David and D. M. Orenstein, Sociological Theory: Classical Statements, Allyn and Bacon, Boston, 1990 (second edition)

Farganis, J., Readings in Social Theory: the Classic Tradition to Post-Modernism McGraw-Hill, New York, 1993

Mills, C.Wright, Sociological Imagination OUP, Feb.2000

Ritzer, George, Sociological Theory, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1992 (third edition)

15 Jul 2009

Sample Essay: Paris 1919


One of the most important books of the year was “Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World” written by Margaret McMillan. According to Waslekar her description of all major and minor characters, their egos, their desperation, their tactics, their mistresses make the book a moving experience. Her eye for detail is amazing. Her description of the ladies of the story from a socialite who plotted to marry General MacArthur to the charming Queen of Romania was amusing. Her portrait of the Hall of Mirrors where the German empire was born and where two German ministers had to sign the certificate of humiliation, also known as Treaty of Versailles, touches the heart. When the main actors leave Paris after signing the treaty, one feels a sense of melancholy.

Like a sad man who unsuccessfully hides his broken heart with humor, the characters in Paris 1919 are involved in high voltage drama about principles only to cover their national and individual greed. However, a reader can find in her story that the Paris conference, and the resulting treaties, sowed dragon’s teeth that would erupt year after year: the bloody 1922 war between Turkey and Greece; the mutual suspicions between Poland and the new republics around her that left them divided later; the bad blood between Rumania and her neighbors over her new borders; the creation of fragile nations and economies in Hungary and Austria that would be easy prey for fascism; the Italian populist fervor over Fiume and Trieste that contributed so much to the rise of Mussolini; the Sudetenland issue that would awake in the 1930s; the Allied mandates in Arab lands that would cause so much resentment later; the creation of amorphous nation-states that would implode in the 1990s – Rwanda, Burundi, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Iraq (Web Elements).

This book brings to life the personalities, ideals, and prejudices of the men who shaped the settlement. They pushed Russia to the sidelines, alienated China, and dismissed the Arabs. They struggled with the problems of Kosovo, of the Kurds, and of a homeland for the Jews.

Synopsis of the Story

On December 4, 1918, the George Washington sailed out of New York with the American delegation to the Peace Conference on board. Guns fired salutes, crowds along the waterfront cheered, tugboats hooted and Army planes and dirigibles circled overhead. Robert Lansing, the American secretary of state, released carrier pigeons with messages to his relatives about his deep hope for a lasting peace. The ship, a former German passenger liner, slid out past the Statue of Liberty to the Atlantic, where an escort of destroyers and battleships stood by to accompany it and its cargo of heavy expectations to Europe (Excerpt Random House).

On board were the best available experts, combed out of the universities and the government; crates of reference materials and special studies; the French and Italian ambassadors to the United States; and Woodrow Wilson. No other American president had ever gone to Europe while in office. His opponents accused him of breaking the Constitution; even his supporters felt he might be unwise. Would he lose his great moral authority by getting down to the hurly-burly of negotiations? Wilson’s own view was clear: the making of the peace was as important as the winning of the war. He owed it to the peoples of Europe, who were crying out for a better world. He owed it to the American servicemen. “It is now my duty,” he told a pensive Congress just before he left, “to play my full part in making good what they gave their life’s blood to obtain.” A British diplomat was more cynical; Wilson, he said, was drawn to Paris “as a debutante is entranced by the prospect of her first ball”(Excerpt Random House).

Wilson expected, he wrote to his great friend Edward House, who was already in Europe, that he would stay only to arrange the main outlines of the peace settlements. It was not likely that he would remain for the formal Peace Conference with the enemy. He was wrong. The preliminary conference turned, without anyone’s intending it, into the final one, and Wilson stayed for most of the crucial six months between January and June 1919. The question of whether or not he should have gone to Paris, which exercised so many of his contemporaries, now seems unimportant. From Franklin Roosevelt at Yalta to Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton at Camp David, American presidents have sat down to draw borders and hammer out peace agreements. Wilson had set the conditions for the armistices which ended the Great War. Why should he not make the peace as well (Excerpt Random House)?

Although he had not started out in 1912 as a foreign policy president, circumstances and his own progressive political principles had drawn him outward. Like many of his compatriots, he had come to see the Great War as a struggle between the forces of democracy, however imperfectly represented by Britain and France, and those of reaction and militarism, represented all too well by Germany and Austria-Hungary. Germany’s sack of Belgium, its unrestricted submarine warfare and its audacity in attempting to entice Mexico into waging war on the United States had pushed Wilson and American public opinion toward the Allies. When Russia had a democratic revolution in February 1917, one of the last reservations that the Allies included an autocracy vanished. Although he had campaigned in 1916 on a platform of keeping the country neutral, Wilson brought the United States into the war in April 1917. He was convinced that he was doing the right thing. This was important to the son of a Presbyterian minister, who shared his father’s deep religious conviction, if not his calling (Excerpt Random House).

Wilson was born in Virginia in 1856, just before the Civil War. Although he remained a Southerner in some ways all his life – in his insistence on honor and his paternalistic attitudes toward women and blacks he also accepted the war’s outcome. Abraham Lincoln was one of his great heroes, along with Edmund Burke and William Gladstone. The young Wilson was at once highly idealistic and intensely ambitious. After four very happy years at Princeton and an unhappy stint as a lawyer, he found his first career in teaching and writing. By 1890 he was back at Princeton, a star member of the faculty. In 1902 he became its president, supported virtually unanimously by the trustees, faculty and students (Excerpt Random House).

In the next eight years Wilson transformed Princeton from a sleepy college for gentlemen into a great university. He reworked the curriculum, raised significant amounts of money and brought into the faculty the brightest and the best young men from across the country. By 1910, he was a national figure and the Democratic Party in New Jersey, under the control of conservative bosses, invited him to run for governor. Wilson agreed, but insisted on running on a progressive platform of controlling big business and extending democracy. He swept the state and by 1911 “Wilson for President” clubs were springing up. He spoke for the dispossessed, the disenfranchised and all those who had been left behind by the rapid economic growth of the late nineteenth century. In 1912, at a long and hard-fought convention, Wilson got the Democratic nomination for president. That November, with the Republicans split by Teddy Roosevelt’s decision to run as a progressive against William Howard Taft, Wilson was elected. In 1916, he was reelected, with an even greater share of the popular vote (Excerpt Random House).

Wilson’s career was a series of triumphs, but there were darker moments, both personal and political, fits of depression and sudden and baffling illnesses. Moreover, he had left behind him a trail of enemies, many of them former friends. “An ingrate and a liar,” said a Democratic boss in New Jersey in a toast. Wilson never forgave those who disagreed with him. “He is a good hater,” said his press officer and devoted admirer Ray Stannard Baker. He was also stubborn. As House said, with admiration: “Whenever a question is presented he keeps an absolutely open mind and welcomes all suggestion or advice which will lead to a correct decision. But he is receptive only during the period that he is weighing the question and preparing to make his decision. Once the decision is made it is final and there is an absolute end to all advice and suggestion. There is no moving him after that.” What was admirable to some was a dangerous egotism to others. The French ambassador in Washington saw “a man who, had he lived a couple of centuries ago, would have been the greatest tyrant in the world, because he does not seem to have the slightest conception that he can ever be wrong” (Excerpt Random House).

President Wilson went to Paris with 14 points for the conduct of international relations. His very first point proclaimed the importance of transparent and open diplomacy in the place of secret deals between powerful men. If the Paris Peace Conference was anything, it was about secret deal making between four powerful men, though they went through the process of open hearings by experts, nationalists, and others (Waslekar).

President Wilson introduced the principle of self-determination, something he had tough time achieving for himself vis-à-vis his own Congress. He did not even try to sell this to the French when they claimed Alsaice Lorraine. He did try to sell it to the Japanese who wanted a pie of the Chinese cake but relented, precisely in the course of secret negotiations that the 14-point charter was averse of (Waslekar).

This side of Wilson’s character was in evidence when he chose his fellow commissioners-or plenipotentiaries, as the chief delegates were known-to the Peace Conference. He was himself one. House, “my alter ego,” as he was fond of saying, was another. Reluctantly he selected Lansing, his secretary of state, as a third, mainly because it would have been awkward to leave him behind. Where Wilson had once rather admired Lansing’s vast store of knowledge, his meticulous legal mind and his apparent readiness to take a back seat, by 1919 that early liking had turned to irritation and contempt. Lansing, it turned out, did have views, often strong ones which contradicted the president’s. “He has,” Wilson complained to House, who noted it down with delight, “no imagination, no constructive ability, and but little real ability of any kind.” The fourth plenipotentiary, General Tasker Bliss, was already in France as the American military representative on the Supreme War Council. A thoughtful and intelligent man who loved to lie in bed with a hip flask reading Thucydides in the original Greek, he was also, many of the junior members of the American delegation believed, well past his prime. Since Wilson was to speak to him on only five occasions during the Peace Conference, perhaps that did not matter (Excerpt Random House).


Margaret MacMillan reaches a very dangerous conclusion as to why the Paris peace conference was more like negotiations between real estate brokers than a plan to create a sustainable world order, capable of carrying most parts of the planet for at least a century or two. In the last paragraph of the book, she says, that the negotiators might have been willing to contemplate a completely new way of conducting international relations if only the world had been thoroughly devastated by the war. Obviously the destruction caused by the First World War was not enough by the standards of their morality (Waslekar).

The behavior of our leaders indicates that the first world war, the second world war, the Vietnam war, the two Gulf wars, the Arab-Israeli wars, and several regional conflicts have not yet caused thorough enough devastation of the world for them to seek a new way of managing international relations. How can the irrational passions of greedy old men are contained before their excuses of nationalism, religion and even democracy do more damage? How can we ever have national and international governance based on the principles for the benefit of the world’s people, rather than pursuit of power by those driven by insatiable thirst? How can we create the architecture of the sustainable global security and development? Prof MacMillan deserves thanks for provoking us to ask these questions (Waslekar).

Political leaders were more honest about the warlike nature of nations a hundred years ago. Before the human and financial enormities of the Great War, leaders and citizens assumed that wars were what countries did. It was how they grew and gained influence. In Paris, MacMillan reveals, some wanted to change that. But they didn’t (Web Elements).


“Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World” A Review, 2006. Accessed Dec. 09, 2007.


“Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World” Random House, 2003. Accessed Dec. 10, 2007.


“Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World” Powell’s Book. Accessed December 10, 2007.


“Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World” Excerpt Random House 2002. Accessed December 10, 2007.


“Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World” Web Elements Chemeistry Book Store in Canada 2002. Accessed December 10, 2007.


14 Jul 2009

Sample Essay: Vere's Dilemma


In the Book Billy Budd by Herman Melville, Vere’s dilemma was due to his love and sympathy to the innocent, handsome and illiterate man named William Billy Budd. Captain Starry Vere was the only witnessed of the incident that happened in the captain’s cabin during the confrontation of Billy Budd and John Claggart- master at arms. Claggart was accusing Billy Budd as part of the conspiracy in the British fleet, that time Billy remains tongue tied and by just a blink of an eye Billy (without thinking the consequences) hit the forehead of Claggart that causes Claggart’s death. Captain Vere was shocked, and in spite of his love for Billy and his knowledge that the act was unintentional, immediately calls a drumhead court to try the foretop man.

The book was not only telling about the story of Billy, it also includes some historical events such as French and American Revolution. In 1797, there were uprisings in the British navy, first at Spithead in April, then at the Nore in May. This latter incident was called the Great Mutiny. As a matter of fact, many sailors who rebelled served heroically later under Nelson at the Nile and at Trafalgar.

The Bellipotent one of the British fleet sails for the Mediterranean. Many of the abuses have been rectified, but impressments still continues, and every officer in the fleet watches for signs of discontent and trouble. Nelson, the greatest naval hero of his time, has great personal influence over the men, but in battle some officers still stand over the gunners with drawn swords (Melville).

In the story there were only three major sailor characters, first the protagonist namely William Billy Budd and Captain Starry Vere. The antagonist played by the character of John Claggart- master at arms, who at the beginning of the story hated Billy Budd because of his beauty and innocent.

After a short investigation, late that afternoon, Captain Vere informs Billy in private of his conviction and sentence: to be hanged from the yardarm in the early morning watch.

At 4:00 a.m., all hands answer the summoning whistle to witness Billy’s execution. Some sit on booms; others observe from the tops of masts. At the last minute his words ring out-“God bless Captain Vere!” These words have a phenomenal effect on the crew especially to Capt. Vere (Melville).

Upon returning to the English fleet in the Mediterranean, the Bellipotent encounters the French battleship Athée (the Atheist). In the engagement that ensues, Captain Vere, while spearheading an attempted boarding of the enemy ship, is hit and seriously wounded by a musketball (Melville).

He successfully guides both ships to the port of Gibraltar, not far from the scene of the fight. There, Captain Vere and the other wounded men are put ashore. Dying and under the influence of a soothing drug, the captain murmurs, “Billy Budd, Billy Budd.” The words are inexplicable to the attendant, but significant to the senior officer of the marines, to whom they are repeated by the attendant. This incident shows that even until his death Capt. Vere still feel sorry for the unconstitutional death of Billy Budd.


Nearing home after a long voyage, the H.M.S. Bellipotent, a British man-of-war in need of men, halts the merchant ship Rights-of-Man. Lieutenant Ratcliffe impresses one-and only one-sailor, Billy Budd, who is happy to serve his country and offers no objections. As he leaves, he calls the Rights of Man by name and bids farewell (Melville).

Aboard the Bellipotent, Billy assumes the duties of foretop man. He quickly endears himself to his mates and the officers under whom he serves. The captain of the ship, “Starry” Vere, is a quiet, just, and well-read officer. In contrast, Claggart, the master-of-arms, although outwardly placid, is inwardly malevolent and moody (Melville).

At first Claggart is friendly toward Billy and seems pleased with his performance of duty. Later Billy is surprised when he is admonished for petty errors. Fearing punishment, Billy seeks advice from a veteran sailor called the Dansker, who says Jemmy Legs (Claggart) is “down on him [Billy].” The Dansker’s observation proves correct. Squeak, one of Claggart’s corporals, furnishes desired false information to the master-at-arms (Melville).

One night, an after guardsman awakens Billy, who is sleeping on deck, and dispatches him to a secluded spot on the ship. There he asks Billy to join a group of impressed sailors in an insurrection and offers him a bribe. Enraged, Billy begins to stutter and threatens to throw the sailor overboard. The sailor flees (Melville).

Shortly after the Bellipotent gives chase to a French vessel, the master-at-arms reports to Captain Vere that Billy is involved in an attempted mutiny. Shocked, the captain orders Claggart and Billy to come to his cabin. When Claggart faces him with charges of conspiracy, Billy is so dumbfounded that once again he is unable to speak; he can only stammer. To vent his feelings, Billy strikes Claggart so forcibly that he kills him (Melville).

Captain Vere, in spite of his love for Billy and his knowledge that the act was unintentional, immediately calls a drumhead court to try the foretop man. England is at war. During that same period there have been widespread mutinies in the British fleet. The officer’s panel finds Billy guilty. The next morning at sunrise he is hanged from the yardarm. He dies with a blessing on his lips-“God bless Captain Vere” (Melville)!

While returning to join the Mediterranean fleet, the Bellipotent encounters the French battleship Athée (the Atheist). In an attempt to capture it, Captain Vere is seriously wounded. The British vessel defeats the French ship and escorts it to Gibraltar, where Captain Vere dies. In his last moments, the captain murmurs, “Billy Budd, Billy Budd.”

Although Claggart is exonerated and Billy Budd executed as a traitor, the spirit of Billy Budd lives on. The common sailors remember Billy’s nobility. They keep track of the spar upon which Billy was hanged. “To them a chip of it is a piece of the Cross.” A fellow foretop man memorializes Billy in a ballad (Melville).


The novel Billy Budd written by Herman Melville is a typical kind of novel–a sea story, the author’s favorite genre. It reminds the real life of the author as a sailor. The story treats rebellion, directs attention to needed reforms (impressments), contains rich historical background about Christian and mythological allusions, concentrates action on actual incidents, and concerns ordinary sailors.

During the trial of the case, Billy doesn’t answer any question ask by the marine officer. He just keeps his tongue tied, and glance to Capt. Vere’s direction. Foremost it symbolized the Crucifixion of Christ. Billy, a Christ-like figure, hesitates to defend himself before the judges. Like Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, Billy shares a moment with Captain Vere in the stateroom before his death.

Although Billy is not perfect, we can conclude that the trial is not legitimate. Especially to those illiterate person who doesn’t know how to defend himself in a courtroom.

However, Billy’s character conveys the idea that his soul belongs to the heavenly and not the earthly world, as is apparent to the chaplain. The courts that try them realize that the charges are only superficial. Billy, like Jesus, dies with a prayer upon his lips. After the hero’s death, all nature responds as the sky and sea alter their appearance. The birds cry out a “cracked requiem.” Later, the men elevate Billy to the status of a saint.


“Billy Budd by Herman Melville” Clifffs Notes 2006, Accessed December 12, 2007.


“Melville, Herman, 1819-1891 . Billy Budd” Electronic Text Center. Accessed December 12, 2007


“Billy Budd by Herman Melville” Amazon.com, Accesed December 12, 2007.


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