Herman Melville’s Billy Budd. Are we supposed to admire or condemn Captain Vere for his decision to sentence BB to death by public hanging?


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Consider this quotation from H. Bruce Franklin:
“Has any work of American literature generated more antithetical and mutually hostile interpretation than Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor? And all the battles about the moral and political vision at the heart of the tale swirl around one question: Are we supposed to admire or condemn Captain Vere for his decision to sentence Billy Budd to death by public hanging? Somehow, astonishingly enough, nobody seems to have noticed that central to the story is the subject of capital punishment and its history.”
Franklin, H. Bruce. "Billy Budd and Capital Punishment: A Tale of Three Centuries" American Literature 69 (1997), 337-59.
In a well-developed essay, provide your answer to Franklin’s question "Are we supposed to admire or condemn Captain Vere for his decision to sentence Billy Budd to death by public hanging?"
(Length: 500 to 750 words)
Be sure that you identify and read outside commentary and criticism about the writing of Herman Melville. In your activity, include three (3) commentary/criticism sources. You need not necessarily agree with the critic, but if you disagree you should state your case for an alternative interpretation. Of course, you may also use the commentary for support. Be sure to cite your sources according to MLA style.



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