H.M.S. Avenger is headed into battle against the French fleet during the Napoleonic Wars, and the dark shadow of two recent mutinies in the English fleet concern Captain Vere. He relies on his cruel and often sadistic Master-at-Arms John Claggert to maintain what he believes to be tenuous order and discipline aboard the ship. When a new seaman, Billy Budd, is pressed into service from a passing merchantman, his innocent, happy-go-lucky attitude quickly endears him to both his messmates as well as the ship's officers. However, his charismatic naivete seems to bother Claggert, whose perverse depravity makes him resent Billy's good-natured purity, especially after the teenager's promotion to fore-top captain. The mean-spirited Claggert unfairly plots to put him on report and ultimately perjures himself when he accuses Billy of conspiring to mutiny. Written by
Gabe Taverney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
MUTINY...the word the navy dreaded most!
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Did You Know?
had been writing poetry for 30 years when he returned to fiction with "Billy Budd" in late 1888. Still unfinished when he died in 1891, it was forgotten. Melville's biographer accidentally stumbled upon it when going through a trunk of the writer's papers in his granddaughter's New Jersey home in 1919. Melville's widow worked to help complete it, and it was finally published in 1924. Over the years other unsatisfactory versions were published, but it wasn't until Melville's original notes were found that the definitive version was ultimately published in 1962. Ironically Peter Ustinov
's film version was released the same year. See more
William O'Daniel, maintopman
[After Jenkons' burial at sea
Well, that's the end of Enoch Jenkins. Over the side he goes and his mates soon forget him.
Alan Payne, maintopman
They'll not forget him so soon, I'm thinking.
The Dansker, sailmaker
Ah, whatever happened to Jenkins, he ain't worried now. He got a hundred fathoms between him and the troubles of his life.
I'd rather be buried at sea than on the shore when I come to die. Will you stand by the plank, mates, so I can shake a friendly hand before I sink?
[After a pause, they all laugh
As the actors' names appear on the screen, the character each plays introduces himself See more
Remade as Billy Budd