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Bartleby, the Scrivener is a famous story by Melville. The story takes place in the Wall Street law office. The narrator is a lawyer. The lawyer runs a law practice on Wall Street. He manages an office that is composed of complementary and contrasting scriveners. He is seen to work around the limitation of the employees[AE1] . He has a strong belief that it is the most efficient way to lead. Through this, the lawyer is in a position to avoid conflict thus promoting compromise. It is evident in the story that Bartleby approaches him seeking employment[AE2] [wh3] . The lawyer accepts him as an employee. Bartleby seems to perform well his duties. It is after a short time that Bartleby starts to refuse to involve himself in tedious activities. Bartleby has exceptional behaviors like living offices in the night and eats all along ginger nuts. The strange behaviors of Bartleby go the extremes when he refuses to perform duties at all as well as refusing to leave the office premises. The short story, therefore, depicts the mystery of despair and makes arguments that some forms of suffering are usually beyond melioration (Earnest, 2012).  Certainly, the short story foreshadows the dehumanized environment of brick and mortar that is closed from the consolations of the real world. This paper will cover the theme of isolation along with the literary elements that have been depicted in the story. [AE4]

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Theme analysis

Isolation

The short story, Bartleby, the Scrivener has shown the theme of isolation through the story explicitly. [AE5] The motif of the story could be traced to be the isolation of Bartleby from the society. There is a greater isolation of the modern life. The only connection that characters have is through the relationships in the work at the office. There are no incidences of private life in the story. Looking at the characters of the story, the narrator uses nicknames that are Turkey[AE6] , Nipper, and Ginger Nut. The narrator never reveals his name. He is just a lawyer in the office.  The narrator is much more friendly, tolerant and familiar with the clerks in the office. However, the lawyer only sees them in terms of their usefulness in the office. It is evident where the lawyer first reconciles with Bartleby since he viewed him as a valuable acquisition who embraced a lot of stillness in the office. The narrator is not even curious about the origin of Bartleby. Isolation is evident here where the only time that the narrator gets to know about the origin of Bartleby is at the incidences where he becomes a problem to him. At this time the narrator gets to know about the relatives of Bartleby (Melville, 2014).  [AE7]

There are incidences where the narrator finds Bartleby in the office. This annoys him. It is on a Sunday morning, and he is appalled. During the day, the narrator sees ‘bright silks and sparkling faces’ on Broadway. Surprisingly, on Sunday and at all nights, this is in contrast where he sees everything to resemble a ghost town. The narrator is seized with overpowering stinging melancholy. It is evident when the narrator tries to fathom of a life that is full of isolation and loneliness like that of Bartleby. Nonetheless, the lawyer feels ‘the bond of a common humanity’ when he observes Bartleby sleeping in the office. The narrator testifies that he has been working in a law office for thirty years but has never seen human characters like the ones he interacted with neither had the human feelings that he had. The narrator gives an old coat of his to Turkey since he saw him as shabby. This was in an effort to help to make him look presentable in the office.

Isolation is evident where Bartleby does not speak to anyone in the office. He does not even have friends in the office despite that he does not leave the office. Ginger Nut is the only individual that supplies him with his pieces of food. Surprisingly, he is not even seen reading. It is for this reason that the narrator isolates Bartleby by putting him in the section of his office where there is a screen. This results to the deduction of the fact that Bartleby had an incurable disorder. It resulted from the terrible loneliness of his life that could be termed as ghostly. The narrator just tries to imagine Bartleby. Bartleby “seemed alone, absolutely alone in the universe. A bit of wreck in the mid Atlantic” (Ryan, 2010).This is a comparison of Bartleby to a representation that is broken and floats in a sea that is endless.

The kind of the image in the short story is a description of the society in the Wall Street. The bottom line is money. Individuals do not value relationships. It is clear from the fact that no one knows the kind of assistance to give to Bartleby. Bartleby is seen to be of no use to anyone and considered as an embarrassment. The narrator even contemplates pretending Bartleby isn’t there, just “walk straight against him as if he were air” (Blair, 2014).  Bartleby symbolizes the refusal of capitalism. The narrator even remembers an incidence where a murder occurred in a deserted office and ascertained to it as being the cause of solidarity in the office that is entirely unhallowed by humanizing domestic associations. Isolation is further concluded where Bartleby is taken to the Tombs to die.

Literary elements

There are three literary elements that support the theme of isolation. [AE8] These include symbolism, descriptive passages, and irony. It is evident that the walls symbolize the isolation of Bartleby from the society, and the descriptive passages are an indication of loneliness while irony is seen to further expound on the theme of isolation. The symbolism is evident in the paragraph ‘Still further to a satisfactory arrangement, I procured a high green folding screen, which might entirely isolate Bartleby from my sight, though note remove him from my voice’ (Melville, 2014). This is an evidence of isolation in the office. The narrator tries to seclude Bartleby from the society. The window that is seen as a form of escape results to Bartleby being trapped behind another wall. This is a further reinforcement if the kind of isolation that he received from the society.

Irony is evident where; in as much as the narrator tries to isolate Bartleby, he is disturbed by it. The lawyer could have dismissed him, but he did not. Instead, he tries to find him another form of employment when he spots him refusing to do the core activities in the workplace. It is ironical how in the beginning the narrator was only concerned with work but at the end of the story he gets involved into the lives of people outside work. It is also ironical that at the end of the story, the narrator becomes a caring person who just wants to know about Bartleby, his odd ways and even finding alternative ways of helping him (Miskolcze, 2013).

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is evident that isolation occurs in reality. This can be traced back in the 19th century where the blacks were isolated and segregated from the society by the whites. During the time of Bartleby, he isolated himself from the society. He even allowed others to isolate him. It was further reinforced through living an abnormal life. The literary elements are used to reinforce the theme of isolation, symbolism, irony and descriptive passages. The effects of isolation are tremendous. They could drive an individual to be insane, embrace solidarity, and even cause suicidal thoughts.

References

Blair, R. (2014). The Doctrine of Assumptions: Narrator Bias in Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener.

Earnest, M. (2012). Dead Letter Office: a prelude to Bartleby the Scrivener. Lulu. Com.

Melville, H. (2014). [Gators Best] Bartleby the Scrivener; Billy Bud; and I and My Chimney: Bartleby the Scrivener; Billy Bud; and I and My Chimney. Best Books Publishing.[AE9]

Miskolcze, R. (2013). The Lawyer’s Trouble with Cicero in Herman Melville’s” Bartleby, the Scrivener”. Leviathan, 15(2), 43-53.

Ryan, S. T. (2010). A Guide to Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (pp. 35-49). Wiley‐Blackwell.

Hi Kelvin,

Thank you for submitting your draft.

As I stated in your Week 1 essay that I returned yesterday, you have good ideas and research in your papers, though you do not have enough adherence to the organization of a literary analysis. Here is a basic outline:

Paragraph 1:

·         Grab the reader’s attention with an interesting statement about the poem or main character.

·         Introduce the title and author of the poem.

·         State the theme that you will analyze in your paper – this is your thesis statement (what you will prove throughout your essay).

Paragraph 2:

·         Sentence #1: OBSERVATION. Make an observation about your theme. This is your topic sentence.

·         Sentence #2: EVIDENCE. Include a quote from the poem that supports your observation. Blend the quote by writing something like this – The author wrote, “The sea was far and wide.”

·         Sentences #3-6: ANALYSIS. This is the most important part and the longest part of your paragraph. Here, you will explain how the evidence helps support your observation. After your evidence, start your first sentence with – This quote shows…

Paragraph 3:

·         Sentence #1: OBSERVATION. Make an observation about your theme. This is your topic sentence.

·         Sentence #2: EVIDENCE. Include a quote from the poem that supports your observation. Blend the quote by writing something like this – The author wrote, “The sea was far and wide.”

·         Sentences #3-6: ANALYSIS. This is the most important part and the longest part of your paragraph. Here, you will explain how the evidence helps support your observation. After your evidence, start your first sentence with – This quote shows…

Paragraph 4:

·         Sentence #1: OBSERVATION. Make an observation about your theme. This is your topic sentence.

·         Sentence #2: EVIDENCE. Include a quote from the poem that supports your observation. Blend the quote by writing something like this – The author wrote, “The sea was far and wide.”

·         Sentences #3-6: ANALYSIS. This is the most important part and the longest part of your paragraph. Here, you will explain how the evidence helps support your observation. After your evidence, start your first sentence with – This quote shows…

Paragraph 5:

·         Restate your thesis in different words.

·         Summarize your main points.

·         Conclude the paragraph with a closing sentence.

Please read my comments and make these changes for the final draft. You are at a bit of a disadvantage because you were behind with your essays, and that caused you to miss some important corrections early on.

Please contact me with questions.


 [AE1]What does this mean?

 [AE2]What does this mean? Avoid as many pronouns as you can without making your sentences awkward. Your ideas seem to get lost with all of the pronouns.

 [AE4]Do not state your thesis so overtly. Work it into your prose without “This paper will cover…”

 [AE5]This is your thesis, and it is well written. This should be the LAST SENTENCE OF YOUR INTRODUCTION.

Then, this should be the first main idea sentence.

What are the three ways in which isolation is shown? Those are your three body paragraphs.

 [AE7]Quote from the text in a literary analysis. This makes your idea clear.

 [AE8]These are your three main ideas. Do not retell the story as you did in the previous paragraphs.

Each of these literary elements is a body paragraph, though you need to expand.

 [AE9]Are you not using our textbook?

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