CaptainVere makes the right decision by executing Billy Budd. If CaptainVere lets Billy
live the rest of the crew might get the impression that they will not be held accountable for
their crimes. If the crew feels that they can get away with what ever they want then there
is a chance that they might form a rebellion and have a mutiny. A mutiny would destroy
the stability and good name of the ship and the crew. Captain Vere does not want to see
this happen. There are three main reasons Captain Vere makes the right decision by
executing Billy Budd. These reasons are that if Billy lives then a mutiny might occur,
because the law states that a crime as severe as Billy’s is punishable by death, and Captain
Vere feels sorry for Billy and does not want Billy to suffer with guilt until a martial court
could give a decision.
If Billy is not executed then corruption might occur on the ship and cause a
mutiny. Captain Vere knows that a mutiny might occur and does not want it to happen.
Captain Vere could possibly be using Billy’s execution for his crime of killing Claggart as
an example for the rest of the crew. It shows the crew what will happen to them if they
try to start a mutiny. After Billy’s death CaptainVere obviously feels regret for executing
Billy. Captain Vere’s last words are “Billy Budd, Billy Budd” (p. 76) show an example of
this. Those last words might symbolize that Captain Vere killed Billy for the wrong
reasons. If CaptainVere uses Billy’s death for an example to the rest of the crew then it
might not necessarily be the wrong reason. CaptainVere has to decide between one life
and the lives of the entire crew. No matter what Captain Vere’s reasons are he does make
the right decision.
Another reason CaptainVere might of executed Billy Budd is because CaptainVere
follows the law to the letter. The law states that mutiny is punishable to by death. Some
readers might not see this accidental murder as mutiny, but killing a superior officer in the
British navy is considered mutiny. In Captain Vere’s decision he shows the crew that no
infractions of the law will be tolerated. In the story CaptainVere is described as “never
tolerating an infraction of discipline” (p. 16). This trait could be the reason for Billy’s
Another reason Captain Vere might execute Billy Budd is that he does not want
Billy to suffer with his extreme guilty until a martial court can see his case. Captain Vere
probably had a personal attachment to Billy. This is evident when Captain Vere says,
“struck dead by an angel of God! Yet the angel must hang!” (p. 51). This statement
implies Captain Vere’s true feelings for Billy. If Captain Vere had let a martial court try
the case then they would most likely come to the same conclusion. Because of this fact
Captain Vere did not find it necessary to make Billy wait for a trial.
Captain Vere made the right decision by executing Billy for his crimes. Although
the decision was controversial it kept stability among the crew. The crew’s fate is more
important than any individual sailor’s fate. If Captain Vere had made the opposite
decision than there probably would be a very horrible fate for the Bellipotent. Billy Budd
could be considered a tragic hero. In his short life Billy touched more lives than most
people do in there entire lives. Billy is somebody that most readers would agree is a tragic
hero. Even though Billy Budd is so great, Captain Vere made the right decision.