Captain Vere versus Social World
It is no doubt that Billy Budd is the main subject of the narrator, but Captain Vere appears to be the true villain of the story through his actions and decisions, which are based on the social world. Besides him being smart, gentle and portraying humanitarian virtues, he has to restore order among his crew prompting him to use his knowledge on the different cases presented to him.
Captain Vere, who is fond of reading, comes out as the most learned fellow among his crew. Through his actions of humility and fatherly love to Billy Budd, the Captain proves his civility. His civility comes majorly from the philosophical books he read while at sea. The narrator asserts this by saying that the Captain never went to sea without a newly replenished library.
The teachings he attains from the books he read are put to test in the trial of his close ally who he has admired for long who is Billy Budd. He is made to rule over the young, handsome sailor actions, which is death. Despite his fatherly love, the captain has to change faces to serve justice in the case presented. Before passing judgement, he ensures no false witnessing by Claggart by questioning both him and Billy in his chambers. Later in the narration when Billy confesses to killing Claggart, he goes ahead to express his innocence by saying he did not mean to kill him. Captain Vere believes every word Billy says and expresses his satisfaction in Billys confession.
Captain Vere is faced with the task of passing the judgement of executing Billy due to his actions, which were driven by Claggarts lying tongue. This put to task his love and care for the young sailor. Billy expresses his regrets for striking down Claggart instead of using words in response of Claggart words. Captain Vere is the Villain of the story due to his actions such as passing the judgement of killing Billy Budd in which he had no full powers to do so.