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 (email@example.com)
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
In the question of Jenkins, Budd was telling the truth.
I know, sir. What are you going to do about Claggart?
What can I do but watch and wait? No court martial would do more than strip him of his rank for such misconduct. And then what? As a rating, he'd be slaughtered by the other men. And who would replace him? And would the French refrain from attacking us while we settled our petty differences? No, I must give him his head until some act puts him squarely counter to the law and then let ...
As the actors' names appear on the screen, the character each plays introduces himself See more
Version of Hora once: Billy Budd