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English Essay

1111 words - 4 pages

PAGE PAGE 1 Yutko
Mark YutkoProfessor CookEN 102 Bartleby The Scrivener Paper6 April 2012The Wall ThemeIn the short story "Bartleby the Scrivener" Herman Melville examines the character of Bartleby who works a dead end job as a copier for a wealthy lawyer. Bartleby is a gift to the narrator at first due to the fact that he can complete large amounts of work at a higher quality, but as time elapses Bartleby begins to respectfully decline to do work. This confuses the lawyer at first because Bartleby had been such a great worker, however he begins to be intrigued by Bartleby's attitude. Eventually the lawyer finds out that Bartleby had been living in the office in which he works and the lawyer moves his practice elsewhere. When Bartleby refuses to leave the building he is placed in prison where he refuses to eat and eventually starves to death. Throughout this plot a wall constantly faces Bartleby. Whether it is Wall Street, the wall opposite his window, the wall of the stairway, or the prison wall Bartleby always has his face staring at a wall. The reason for the constant theme of the wall is that the wall represents the obstacle Bartleby faces in life. Each wall, whether physical or figurative, represents a different obstacle for Bartleby, many of which he cannot overcome.The first wall that Bartleby conflicts with in the story is Wall Street. Wall Street presents a specific task for Bartleby mainly because it is a conformist's job. The lawyer feels very comfortable on Wall Street because he knows what is expected of him, but Bartleby, on the other hand is an existentialist and does not agree with conforming to society. As stated by Leo Marx, "Bartleby has a gradually stiffening resistance to the Wall Street Routine" (Marx 608). This is what eventually contributes to Bartleby's defiance towards the lawyer when the lawyer asks him to do simple, normal tasks, such as proofreading somebody's work. Bartleby as a person does not want to conform to become a typical Wall Street human being because it conflicts with his personal views and he does not view life materialistically. Bartleby eventually crumbles and refuses to do any work at all, proving that he cannot handle conforming to the social norm. Overall, Wall Street is a personal obstacle for Bartleby to overcome his defiance for conformity. In the end, Bartleby is unable to reach life through the "wall" of Wall Street.Another wall that Bartleby faces in the story is the wall that the only window in his office faces. This wall is located directly outside of the only window in the office that Bartleby shares with the lawyer. The window that faces the wall, "let in light but present no distracting vistas" (Barnett 334). This is the first indication that the wall is an entrapment for Bartleby. The wall prevents any sunlight from being let in and therefore blocks Bartleby from the outside world. Leo Marx even describes the wall by saying that it, "gives us what seems at first to be a sharply...

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