by Herman Melville There is much to be said about innocence. If one is with innocence than one can do no wrong, but that may not always hold true. Innocence is not always a good thing as it could make one naive or blind to certain evils. This is personified in the character, Billy Budd. Billy was innocent from evil and therefore could not recognize the evil in John Claggart or that he intended to destroy him. John Claggart wants to destroy Billy because he is extremely wary of Billy's intentions. He has come to believe that Billy is planning a mutiny and wants to take control of the ship. Claggart reports this to captain Vere saying," During today's chase and possible encounter I had seen enough to convince me that at least one
aboard was dangerous." Meaning that he felt Billy was against them. Claggart felt that Billy's big plan was to get in favor of all the men on the ship and then turn them against the captain. Captain Vere responds by having Billy and Claggart meet in private where Claggart can openly accuse Billy of this crime. Fortunately, Claggarts attempt to destroy Billy for mutiny fails because he is struck down by Billy in one blow, ending the matter, but opening a much more serious one. Claggart is also seen as attempting to destroy Billy due to his evil nature in general. Nothing depicts Claggart's evil nature better than the way he looks. " His cleanly chiseled chin and cunning violet eyes that can cut lesser sailors with an evil glare. His pale yellow skin and jet black curly hair; they all contrast his character". He is out to destroy Billy because of the constant struggle of good and evil. Billy is innocent and cannot comprehend evil therefore making him good. People calling Billy "baby budd, and handsome sailor" just seem to contrast the good in him even more. Claggart was born evil and therefore is evil. Claggart would naturally be out to destroy Billy because he is what Claggart is against. Just good vs. evil in a battle for control. It is very true that jealousy is another reason why John Claggart wanted the destruction of Billy Budd. Claggart was never well liked by the crew . This would not have been a problem except that Billy Budd was liked by the crew. Every time he saw the love for Billy he was reminded of the dislike for himself. One old sailor on the ship noticed this too and warned Billy by saying, "Jimmy Leggs is down on you". Jimmy Leggs referring to Claggart. One instance which occured in the kitchen just made matters worse when Billy spilled the soup he was making and it ran down the corridor just as Claggart was walking by. Claggart did not openly get angry at Billy for the accident, but inside felt he had done it on purpose. As the soup ran down the corridor it seemed to symbolize an actual line drawn between the two. The resentment Claggart felt for Billy made him look him too critically. That is a good reason why Claggart could have thought Billy was planning a mutiny and would want him destroyed. He was just jealous of Billy's popularity. John Claggart attempts to destroy Billy Budd because he was envious of Billy's appearance and jealous of his innocence.