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In the book, Billy Budd, Sailor, the author, Herman Melville portrays Billy Budd as a

romantic hero. The protagonist, Billy Budd, shows to have many aspects of a romantic hero in
his character. One of those ones being Billys leaderships on the ship. Billy also has a trait like no
other, individualism, which helps shape the actions he does. He goes on to do things the way he
wants to and learns to overlook the ways of the other sailors. A romantic hero should also show
strong emotions, and Billy Budd does exactly that. Billy Budd is portrayed as a true Romantic
hero because he is a role model and shows leadership, the idea that people can do things without
being bothered by what other people think, and the idea of strong emotion within themselves.
An important trait of a romantic hero is having leadership skills and throughout the book,
Billy Budd shows to have those. Aboard the ship, the Rights-of-Man, Billy is a popular hero
among his shipmates. He gains leadership using his innocent ways. Such a cynosure, at least in
aspect, and something such too in nature, though with important variations made apparent as the
story proceeds, was welkin-eyed Billy Budd (4) Melville uses the word cynosure, meaning, one
that serves to direct or guide. This shows that the narrator also notices the true leadership skill in
Billy. Billy Budd showed himself as a role model which as a result, inspired other sailors to
become like him. After waving goodbye to his shipmates, he salutes the ship by saying And
good-by to you too, old Rights-of-Man (11). This shows Billys connection to the ship and how
much of an influence he created there. The influence being his leadership and how the other
sailors look down upon him. He is later transferred to the Indomitable where he remained
popular among the other sailors. Aboard that ship, Billy meets Claggart, commander of the
Bellipotent. Very quickly in the book, Claggart becomes envious of all the popularity Billy
acquires aboard the ship. But Claggart's was no vulgar form of the passion. Nor, as directed

toward Billy Budd, did it partake of that streak of apprehensive jealousy that marred Saul's
visage perturbedly brooding on the comely young David. Claggart's envy struck deeper.(37)
The narrator describes the jealousy in Claggart. However this jealousy has a meaning behind it,
he is jealous of the great qualities Billy possesses, the big one being his leadership and
management. He is the role model and Claggart does not like it. When Billy was going to be
taken from his ship Captain Graveling was not happy about it, "Lieutenant, you are going to take
away my best man from me, the jewel of 'em" (46). Billy was loved and missed. He was loved
because of his good character. However, one may ask, What makes Billy such a good role
model? This is from his individualism or self-reliance.
Billy Budd is portrayed as an individualist throughout the book. The idea that the actions
or emotions of a person who does things, without being bothered by what other people will think.
Many people would be saddened and devastated if they were forced to serve their country but
Billy looked at it all of this as an opportunity to gain new experiences and skills. "He rather liked
this adventurous turn in affairs, which promised an opening into novel scenes and martial
excitements" (49). Another way Billy shows individualism is when the chaplain come up to him
at the end of the story trying to explain to him how to get himself redeemed before his death, but
Billy stayed true to his beliefs about God and didnt let go. One whom though on the confines
of death he felt he could never convert to a dogma; nor for all that did he fear for his future" (78).
A person sets out to do what they want to do. Billy does not follow the beliefs of others and
sticks to what he believes right up to his death.
As we saw above, we know Claggart can get into state of envy pretty quickly. People
look and desire to possess a trait another person has. This envy is what fires up Billy resulting in
a quick change in emotion. An emotion that is strong, exactly what we want to see in a romantic

hero. Pointing down to the streaming soup, playfully tapped him from behind with his rattan,
saying in a low musical voice peculiar to him at times, Handsomely done, my lad! And
handsome is as handsome did it too! Billy drops some soup onto to a desk Claggart just
cleaned. It is the jealousy that starts Claggart up. Claggart claims he will start a rebellion to get
rid of Billy. Like anyone in shock, Billy doesnt know what to say. Amazement at such an
accusation so suddenly sprung on inexperienced nonage (56).Romantic heroes will have a
strong emotion, and that shows exactly how Billy reacted. Billy pulls his hand out and shoots
Claggart. His strong impulse was a bad decision and he acted completely out of line.
Billy Budds portrayal of a romantic hero was completely accurate. Billy Budd
was a strong leader and showed the other sailors exactly how to act. Billy also showed
individualism, which helps shape the actions he does, in a way where he is not affected by
others. He knows how to do things the way he wants to and learns to overlook the ways of the
other sailors. Billy Budd also showed strong emotion, which is a key aspect in a romantic hero.
Billy Budd is portrayed as a true Romantic hero because he is a role model and shows leadership,
the idea that people can do things without being bothered by what other people think, and the
idea of strong emotion within themselves.