Symbolism In Hermana Melville´´S Bartleby, The Scrivener

1250 words - 5 pages

    “Bartleby, the Scrivener” is one of The Piazza Tales written by Herman Melville which was one of his greatest works that express the author’s groundbreaking beliefs through a relationship between a narrator and his coworkers. The narrator is a successful lawyer who hires Bartleby. Shortly after, Bartleby manages to drive the narrator crazy by doing absolutely nothing. Doing this, Melville introduces several important prompts for the reader to ponder over. These prompts are introduced to us and justified through Melville’s symbolism. Melville’s great uses of symbolism strongly address three major contentions to his audience: his critique against capitalism, his philosophical stance on the value of life, and his reaction towards his audience’s feedback.
  “Bartleby, the Scrivener” uses symbolism to criticize capitalism. “Bartleby the Scrivener” is “A Story of Wall Street” and uses a building next to wall street as the setting. The building is described as a very depressing building, which, “of week-days hums with industry and life, at nightfall echoes with sheer vacancy, and all through Sunday is forlorn.” Melville first attacks capitalism by symbolizing his characters as victims of the corporate world. First it starts off by showing the miserable, yet humorous lives of Turkey and Nippers. Turkey and Nippers both have to work the entire day, but neither of them can fully operate for the entire day of work. Turkey works well in the morning, where “his face was of fine florid hue”. However, from noon to the end of the day Turkey is exhausted after drinking where he “blazed like a grate full of Christmas coals; and continued blazing—but, as it were, with a gradual wane”. Nippers is the exact opposite. Nippers poor behavior was, “mainly observable in the morning, while in the afternoon he was comparatively mild”. Turkey and Nippers are examples of people that don’t have the free will to choose when they work, but clearly are more functional at other times. Turkey and Nippers are characters who symbolize the citizens of capitalism that don’t have the free will to not work when they don’t want to. Although Turkey and Nippers are good examples used by Melville, Bartleby is the ultimate political hero who challenges capitalism with his passive-aggressive behavior. Once Bartleby gets hired, he spends most of his time doing nothing other than working and staring out the window. If he is ever asked to do anything, Bartleby simply responds by saying, “I would prefer not to”. By doing this, Bartleby experiences several devastating consequences such as: losing his job, going to prison, and dying. Bartleby never harms anybody or is detrimental to anybodies work. When the narrator asks Bartleby to walk to Ginger Nut’s post office, Bartleby, like usual, replies by saying, “I prefer not to”. The narrator gets furious and asks, “You will not?”. However, Bartleby restates with emphasis “I prefer not”., and then leaves the room. Bartleby spends most of his time...

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