Too much innocence is not always a good thing, but a little helps from doing wrong. In the case of Billy Budd, innocence was not an important factor, therefor it did not save Billy’s life. His ignorance partly reflects his lack of experience. Billy can’t read or write so he knows little about the world except what he has seen out at sea. He is so trusting that he can’t imagine the presence of evil in anyone. This gullibility made him an easy target for Claggart, who secretly was out to destroy him. Why was he out to destroy Billy? There are several reasons. John Claggart wants to destroy Billy because he is extremely wary of Billy’s intentions. His devious idea was to get Billy in trouble and have him removed from the Bellipotent, permanently. Billy was asked to join in on a mutiny but, declined and kept his mouth shut when he should have reported the incident to Captain Vere. Afer hearing this, Claggart produced a fib, declaring Billy to be the leader of a suspected mutiny. Claggart reports this story to captain Vere saying, “During today’s chase and possible encounter I had seen enough to convince me that at least one sailor aboard was dangerous.” Claggart stated that Billy’s big plan was to get in favor of all the men on the ship and then turn them against the captain. This was the reason he was so well liked by the rest of the crew. He was supposedly going to use his eminence to fulfill his plan. Captain Vere responds by having Billy and Claggart meet in private so that Claggart could openly accuse Billy of the crime. Once Billy heard this outrageous rumor, he tried to explain himself but due to his stutter was unable to do so. Claggart’s attempt to destroy Billy fails because he is struck down by Billy in one punch, ending the matter but bringing on a more serious one.
It is very true that jealousy was another reason Claggart wanted the destruction of Billy. He was never well liked by the crew, this wouldn’t have been a problem if Billy wasn’t so popular. Every time he saw the love of Billy, it reminded him of how much he disliked him. One instance which occurred in the kitchen made matters worse when Billy spilled the soup he was making and it ran down the corridor just as Claggart was walking by. He did not openly get mad at Billy for the accident, but inside he felt that Billy had spilled the soup on purpose. This may have been one reason for Claggart making up the story about the mutiny. He was just jealous of Billy’s popularity. Claggart is evil, nothing depicts this more that 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 dark curly hair all contrast with his character. Billy is an honest, pure, and straightforward person. He lives and acts from his heart and is not the least bit self-conscious. He is incapable of sarcasm or deceit. This led to his downfall and attack from Claggart. If Billy wouldn’t have been so oblivious to his surroundings then maybe he would have realized that Claggart was out to get him due to his constant struggle between good and evil.