This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Plot, Setting, Point Of View, And Tone In Bartleby The Scrivener

1362 words - 5 pages

In the short story, "Bartleby the Scrivener," Herman Melville employs the use of plot, setting, point of view, characterization, and tone to reveal the theme. Different critics have widely varying ideas of what exactly the main theme of "Bartleby" is, but one theme that is agreed upon by numerous critics is the theme surrounding the lawyer, Bartleby, and humanity. The theme in "Bartleby the Scrivener" revolves around three main developments: Bartleby's existentialistic point of view, the lawyer's portrayal of egotism and materialism, and the humanity they both possess. The three developments present the lawyer's and Bartleby's alienation from the world into a "safe" world of their own design.

The lawyer, although an active member of society, alienates himself by forming walls from his own egotistical and materialistic character. The story of "Bartleby the Scrivener" is told from the limited first person point of view of the lawyer, or narrator. This point of view allows the egotism and materialism of the narrator to influence how the story is perceived by the reader. The lawyer asserts, "All who know me consider me an eminently safe man" (Melville 131). The lawyer is a very methodical and prudent man and has learned patience by working with other, such as Turkey, Ginger Nut, and Nippers. However, the lawyer's constant concern with his own self-approval cheapens his benevolence toward Bartleby. In fact, the lawyer is not able to see the desperate plight of Bartleby due to his unwavering concern of what the scrivener can do for the lawyer's self-approval instead of what he can do for Bartleby. In this sense, the lawyer's "wall" is a sort of safety net for his own ego. He does not allow Bartleby's irrationality to affect him because he does not believe that such a thing exists or matters. His materialistic sense does not acknowledge Bartleby's mental problem as reality since the lawyer believes that only physical matter really exists. Irony appears in the fact that the lawyer works in abstract things, such as paper deeds, which are really not of any substance except in the fact paper is not abstract. In a sense, the lawyer's entire life revolves around objects and ideas which do not make sense to him although he is not aware of this.

Bartleby contrasts the lawyer through his existentialism and completely non-materialistic identity. Charles G. Hoffmann comments, "Traditionalism in the form of usefulness and methodology, self-interest in the form of ambition and survival: this is the rationale of the world into which Bartleby has entered" (109). Bartleby cannot survive in such a world where conformity is a necessity for survival. Bartleby believes the world is meaningless so he must create his own meaning through constantly challenging what other people see as normal conformities. Bartleby's defiance and questioning is shown in the words, "I would prefer not to" (Melville 137). The passive resistance exhibited by Bartleby totally confounds...

Find Another Essay On Plot, Setting, Point of View, and Tone in Bartleby the Scrivener

Discusses the setting, theme, and point of view from William Carlos William's "The Use of Force" and Endora Welty's "A Visit from Charity"

1268 words - 5 pages Setting, Point of View, and ThemeAuthors use complex literary elements in order to relay their messages to the readers of the story. These elements serve as the visual and emotional connection between the thoughts and feelings of the author and his naïve reader. Setting, theme and point of view draw on the reader's ability or inability to create a picture of what the story is about. Setting can be defined as time and place. It represents

Isolation and Society in Bartleby, the Scrivener

702 words - 3 pages Isolation and Society in Bartleby, the Scrivener         Herman Melville's Bartleby is a tale of isolation and alienation. In his story, society is primarily to blame for the creation and demise of Bartleby.         Throughout the story, the characters -- Bartleby in particular -- are isolated from each other or from society. The forester's office, which can be

Allusions in Bartleby the Scrivener

660 words - 3 pages ). Cicero, a very successful Roman politician, also plays a very significant role in the story of “Bartleby, the Scrivener”. The narrator has a bust of Cicero in his office connecting the two cultures; the Western and Eastern cultures however are strikingly different. At around 100 B.C. Cicero led the Roman Empire in a very structured and civilized way. The Roman Empire’s governmental structure is very similar to the United Stated government because

The True Intentions of the Lawyer in “Bartleby, the Scrivener”

807 words - 4 pages The lawyer, also the narrator, hires Bartleby to work as a scrivener at his business that involves bonds, mortgages and titles. The lawyer thinks he has all of his scriveners behaviors “on lock”. Although Bartleby started as a hard working employee, he eventually and in a calm manner refuses to do any requested work by the lawyer by simply saying, “I would prefer not to”. The lawyer doesn’t fire Bartleby after he declines to work, instead he

Themes of Hopelessness in Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener

1231 words - 5 pages We can never be one hundred percent certain of the validity of our literary analyses. This is especially the case with Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener”. Critics have been trying for decades to make sense of the text and most will describe it as “inscrutable”. I don’t claim to know better than the critics, but instead offer my own interpretation of the work. Based on my observations and analysis, Melville’s use of many elements in his

The Dangers of Conformity in Bartleby, the Scrivener and A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

1765 words - 7 pages The Dangers of Conformity in Bartleby, the Scrivener and A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings     Authors can use various concepts to enhance or dictate the progression of their work. Ambiguity is one such tool that has the power to influence a story. In "Bartleby, the Scrivener" and "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," Melville and Marquez utilize ambiguity to develop their story's theme. Both authors focus ambiguity around the main

Social Deviance in Bartleby the Scrivener

684 words - 3 pages continue his way of life; in exchange for what society considers right: the perpetuation and profit of his business, his professional standing.  In the end they are both the losers.  In a broader sense Melville is making the point that industrialization is stripping away our morals, breeding a society based on the self-centered individual.            Melville, Herman.  "Bartleby, the Scrivener."  The Norton Anthology of American Literature.  Ed. Nina Baym et al.  4th ed.  New York:  W.W. Norton and Company,  1995.  1048.  

Bartleby the Scrivener, Symbolism and walls

1158 words - 5 pages Bartleby and the Scrivener Walls and Symbolism In the story Bartleby the scrivener walls are a main focus in the story. They are also very symbolic in multiple ways whether symbolizing society or religion these seemingly meaningless objects have much depth in meaning and function throughout the story. My goal in this paper is to discuss in depth the symbolism of the walls in the story Bartleby and the Scrivener. Herman Melville had a very

Bartleby the Scrivener and William Wilson

1442 words - 6 pages , while their peers thought that they were brothers. At the end of the story, William Wilson who is angry and annoyed with the other Wilson confronts him, where second William Wilson finds death. The main similarity of the main characters of the stories of “Bartleby the Scrivener” written by Herman Melville and “William Wilson” written by Edgar Allan Poe is because they both are described in the first person. I want to argue that the story of William

"Bartleby, the Scrivener"

932 words - 4 pages The lawyer, although an active member of society alienates himself by forming walls from his own egotistical and materialistic character. The story of "Bartleby the Scrivener" is told from the limited first person point of view of the lawyer, or narrator. This point of view allows the ego and materialism of the narrator to influence how the reader perceives the story. The lawyer points out; "All who know me consider me an eminently safe man

Bartleby the Scrivener

1759 words - 7 pages defines how brutal society is. The narrator, “a rather elderly man” is saying prison better than the job Bartleby had. In a transcendental point of view, prison is a better place since it is closer to nature, having the sky and grass near. The repetition of the green screen and the green grass shows Melville is trying to convey symbolism of the green objects. I think the grass at the prison represents symbolically transcendentalism (the grass

Similar Essays

Point Of View In Bartleby, The Scrivener

957 words - 4 pages Bartleby. If he had used third-person omniscient, it would have pulled away from the narrator, and focused on all of the characters more. If he would have used third-person limited omniscient, we would not have gotten how the other characters in the story felt about Bartleby. Objective would not have worked either, because he wouldn’t really get to see what was going on in the lawyers “head.” In conclusion, point of view is very pertinent to telling the story. It is how the story is told, and who the story is told by. All of these factors go in to point of view.

Use Of Point Of View, Setting And Symbolism In The Swimmer, By John Cheever

1159 words - 5 pages Swimmer,” John Cheever uses point of view, setting and symbolism to show the value of true relationships and the moments of life that are taken for granted. “The Swimmer” is an allegory that is narrated in third person point of view as someone who is observing Neddy’s journey. This enables the reader to discover the reactions of friends and neighbors as Neddy arrives at their homes while still revealing the shift of the round character’s own

Jude The Obscure: The Relationship Between Point Of View And Setting

1762 words - 8 pages lonesome individual, and consequently affect his future conducts. In this part the narrator discusses the setting of the cornfield and the rooks pecking on it, to represent Jude’s feelings and the mood of the place that is projected from both the boy’s and external omniscient point of view. After being humiliated by his aunt, Jude in his oppressive moods descends into the sunken cornfield and the omniscient narrator describes it as ‘the brown

Discuss The Impact Of The Past Upon The Present In Both "Persuasion" By Jane Austen And "The Magic Toyshop" By Angela Carter, From The Point Of View Of Both Characterisation And Plot

2579 words - 10 pages of this impact is debatable, as an old flame is rekindled in the end. However, a past which links so closely to the present creates new plot opportunities to Austen who carefully constructs new perspectives for both the reader, herself and her characters by the past and present love stories between Anne and the Captain.Melanie, the main character of Carter's novel, is also affected by her own past. She is a silly pubescent girl who's grown up in