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Bartleby, the Scrivener

Bartleby, the Scrivener

Bartleby, the Scrivener was a most interesting story. The characters were very interesting to the intuitive reader. The narrator is an interesting man who is difficult to completely understand. The narrator’s thoughts seem unclear even to himself. The narrator seems to have a sincere wish to help Bartleby in whatever way he can. His sincerity, though, is questionable. Every time the narrator tries to assist Bartleby, he seems to do it only to gratify himself. After the narrator informs Bartleby that the office must be vacated, he says to himself, “As I walked home in a pensive mood, my vanity got the better of my pity.” The narrator is glad to have gotten rid of Bartleby, but only it seems, because he gave Bartleby money. This quasi- sincerity does seem to take a turn, however, towards the end of the story. After all the trivial attempts to help Bartleby, the narrator seems to have an instant of true feeling for Bartleby. After moving, and being rid of Bartleby, someone comes to him on Bartleby’s behalf. The narrator goes to the prison to check on Bartleby only because he cares and knows that nobody else does. He knows that if he does not check on Bartleby’s well- being, no one will. This shows that he is truly beginning to care. This man, the narrator, is also a very weak willed man. He seems to put up with nearly everything. He tolerates the tempers of both Turkey and Nippers day after day. Both these men appear to be alcoholics, as for instance, when Turkey returns from lunch he is not able to write without blotting the paper. When the narrator suggests that the two scriveners work only half a day, they refuse. And so, the narrator allows the behavior to continue. Also, when Bartleby first starts work, the narrator says that he placed him behind a screen so that he, ‘ Might entirely isolate Bartleby from my sight, though not to remove him from my voice.” This wall served no real purpose other than to set himself apart from the scriveners, that is, to make himself feel more important. Also, when the narrator asked Bartleby to do something, Bartleby said simply that he, “would prefer not to.” The narrator allowed this behavior and offered no discipline. Bartleby did whatever he felt like doing. Again later, Bartleby quit working altogether.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Victor Frankenstein’s Alternate-self

Each person reacts differently to a mirror. Some prefer to primp and tidy their face while others take a quick glance and carry on. However, there are others who continuously stare into the eyes of their alternate-self. These people wonder, “What do I see?” They are the kind of people who desperately seek answers for their existence, and will not rest until their questions are resolved. The alternate-self is the true being. Although it remains as a reflection of the physical body it is also who we see on the inside. What one sees in his or her reflection equals the truth of their nature. For some we see an innate good, but for others it is the innate evil and horror of humanity. Victor Frankenstein may claim to be such a person, but he performs the ultimate taboo; he decides to bring his alternate-self to life. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a book of mirrors which investigates the idea of the alternate-self and suggests the terror of liberating the innate evil through Victor and his monster.

In the very beginning of the novel the first mirror appears through Walton. Walton writes to his sister imposing his ambitions upon her stating, “for nothing contributes so much to tranquillise the mind as a steady purpose, — a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye” (Shelley 29). In other words Walton explains his predicament as one of the most important goals of life. He truly believes there is no other greater purpose in the world than to fulfill his ambitions no matter the concequences. His words are repeated throughout the novel not only by him but also by Victor. Though Walton is not Victor’s physical reflection he is a man of the same nature. “You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did…

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…erson he is. He spent hours to days trying to create the being he saw. Victor needed to bring his alternate-self to life. Perhaps it is because he needed to shake hands with the real Frankenstein, or perhaps he needed it to live before he could destroy the horrible side of his humanity. Some are able to handle who they are and change their flaws. These are the ones who spend a few minutes in front of their alternate-self. Others are wretched and a lost cause. They obsess with every feature and try to create something better than what they see. The alternate-self is the gateway to the real person inside. It is the one we despise or love. As Victor Frankenstein never learned, it is also the one we feel we have to destroy.

Works Cited

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein; Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism, 2cd ed. New York/Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000.

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