Herman Melville's intense and dramatic novella Benito Cereno depicts a revolt aboard a Spanish slavery vessel captained by the titular character.
Melville first published this story in 1855 - the ensuing popularity from its initial serialisation led Benito Cereno to be published as a distinct book in its own right. A tale of deception of both the characters and the readers, the tale is commonly cited as a classic example of the unreliable narrator device in which the subjective viewpoints lead the reader astray as to what is actually happening.
Set in 1799, we witness an American trading vessel, the Bachelor's Delight, visiting to aid the San Dominick - a Spanish slave ship which has apparently fallen into distress. The American captain, Amasa Delano, notes a few oddities about Captain Benito Cereno and the ship's passengers, particularly the liberties taken by the slaves aboard ship, but is otherwise unperturbed.
With time however, the behaviour of the crew becomes more unusual - with Delano particularly frustrated in being unable to have a private word with the Spanish captain, whose behaviour appears increasingly nervous and tense - particularly in the company of one slave named Babo.
A tension-filled tale of suspense, the story has become acclaimed for its explorations of slavery, race, and human depravity. In the modern day, the novel has attracted praise for treating both the white and black characters in a realistic, unsentimental fashion. The profiteering character of Don Benito, and the fierceness of Babo, are both noted in the text.