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Allusions In Bartleby The Scrivener Essay

660 words - 3 pages

In “Bartleby, the Scrivener” the author, Herman Melville, uses indirect references to hint to many historical, literary, and biblical events. “Bartleby, the Scrivener” contains many allusions about important events that help connect this fictional story to actual events in Melville’s time period, before, and beyond. Melville uses allusions frequently throughout “Bartleby, the Scrivener” to help build connections with the real world and the fictitious world of this short story.
One of the biggest allusions in “Bartleby, the Scrivener” is the comparison of Bartleby to Jesus. In the story the narrator is confronted by the new owner of the law offices. He asks the narrator if he knows who Bartleby is. The narrator replies with “I certainly cannot inform you. I know nothing about him” (Melville 29). In this instance the narrator is denying knowing who Bartleby is to keep himself from the problems that could occur. The narrator denied knowing Bartleby in the same way the Peter denied Jesus in The Bible. The narrator represents Peter, and Bartleby represents Jesus. When Peter was confronted by the servant girls and the High Priest in The Bible he denied knowing Jesus three times. “17 Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’” (NKJV, John 18:17). Peter denied Jesus because he was afraid of being arrested and killed for being associated with Jesus. The narrator denied Bartleby because he was afraid that he would have to deal with his inability to work again.
Another allusion that references biblical events is the symbolism of Bartleby dying in a prison surrounded by stone walls. It is almost if Melville was giving Bartleby a proper burial on site. Melville describes the prison walls as, “The surrounding walls were, of amazing thickness, kept off all sounds behind them” (Melville 34). Bartleby represents Jesus, the scene of him dying is important because in The Bible when Jesus died...

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