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I don't think that innocence is exactly the root of evil, it's more like evil is attracted to innocence. For example, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were completely innocent, so Satan wanted to corrupt them. Similarly, in Billy Budd, Claggart is evil and feels the need to prey upon Billy's goodness and innocence. Either way, you are right that Billy's innocence is what makes him dead. If Billy hadn't been so innocent, Claggart wouldn't have taken such an interest in and provoked Billy, Billy wouldn't have struck Claggart, Claggart wouldn't have died, and Billy wouldn't have been executed.

I believe that innocence is not the root of all evil but that evil is just that. If Claggart was not even on the ship there would have been no problems. I simply believe was on the wrong ship at the wrong time. Billy's innocence would have gone untouched if it wasn't for the evil in Claggart.

I also don't think that innocence is the root of evil. I think that evil depends on innocence and vice versa, but I don't think that evil needs to begin as innocence. Claggart is born evil, he was never innocent.

I think I see what Charlotte is getting at. Innocence is clearly not the root of evil in the sense that innocent people necessarily become evil. However, innocence allows evil to wreak havoc. First, as Meghan notes, innocence attracts the likes of Claggart and the serpent, and in Claggart's case functions as the "special object" that actually arouses his "lunacy": one could say that Claggart, while naturally depraved, was not actually evil until he saw Billy (76). In addition, innocence blinds the victim of evil, so that evil can fulfill its goals, which of course involve destroying goodness and innocence.

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