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Character, Setting, and Point of View in Bartleby the Scrivener

Character, Setting, and Point of View in Bartleby the Scrivner

Herman Melville, who is now considered one of the greatest American

writers was “deprived of an optimistic view on life after the bankruptcy and

death of his father”.(Thorp) Melville lived a very unhappy life with his

writings not becoming famous til after his death, ” he is a strong willed man

who always said no to his friends and family meaning he is not a very

optimistic person.” (Thorp) By way of the character Bartleby, of his best

known short story “Bartleby , the Scrivner” written in 1851, Melville

expresses a lesson he learned during his own life which is that isolation is

like a death of the human spirit. This lesson is shown through character,

setting, and point of view in the story.

The story opens with a lawyer setting up the tale he is about to tell.

This lawyer maintains an office on the second floor of a building on Wall

Street in New York City where he employs two copyists named Turkey and

Nippers. He also employs an office boy named Ginger Nut. The lawyer

specializes in real estate and financial matters for wealthy men. The office

receives a lot more work over the summer so the lawyer must take an ad out

for more help. Bartleby answers the ad. He is a “pallidly neat, pitiably

respectable, incurably forlorn!”(Melville) Bartleby is set up in the corner

of the lawyers office separated by a folding screen, right next to a window

with a view of the building next door. The building is only three feet away

from the window and the bricks are black with age. Light only shines from

high above the two buildings. He keeps to himself in the corner. He doesn’t

speak to a…

… middle of paper …

…ery well in this story by the characters and the setting.

Melville tries to convey that people must not isolate and seclude themselves.

They have to communicate with others and participate in regular if not daily

activities. Melville’s point is that the ideal is that people need to look

out for one another. Sometimes though, no matter what assistance or support

one may offer, their efforts are incapable of providing the desired effect,

and the person needing help is unable or unwilling to accept the charity of

others nor to help themselves. Melville wrote this story because he needed

income and he found it a simple story to develop from familiar experiences.

Works Cited:

Melville, Herman. “Bartleby the Scrivener.” [1863]. Literature. 5th ed. Eds.James H. Pickering and Jeffery D. Hoeper. Upper Saddle River, NJ:Prentice, 1997.

Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar – Feminist Thought

The Bell Jar – Feminist Thought

The Bell Jar This autobiographical novel by Sylvia Plath follows the story of Esther Greenwood, a third year college student who spends her summer at a lady’s fashion magazine in Manhattan. But despite her high expectations, Esther becomes bored with her work and uncertain about her own future. She even grows estranged from her traditional-minded boyfriend, Buddy Willard, a medical student later diagnosed with TB. Upon returning to her hometown New England suburb, Esther discovers that she was not selected to take a Harvard summer school fiction course, and subsequently starts to slip into depression.

Esther finds herself unable to concentrate and perform daily tasks. Therefore she decides to undergo a few sessions with Dr. Gordon, a psychiatrist, and even undergoes treatments of electroshock therapy. As the depression sinks in, Esther becomes obsessive about suicide, and tries to kill herself by crawling into the cellar where she subsequently ingested a bottle of sleeping pills. Esther’s attempt fails and she is taken to a city hospital, and then over to a private psychiatric institution by the intervention of a benefactor. As Esther begins to recover, she develops a close relationship with her psychiatrist Dr. Nolan, and eventually leaves the hospital as a transformed woman.

This transformation, spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation is exactly the kind of happy ending described by Fay Weldon. In The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath ends the book with the scene of Esther going into meet the doctors of the mental evaluation board. She is standing outside the room with Dr. Nolan, observing the people around her and making observations about herself:

‘Don’t be scared,’ Doctor Nolan had said.But inspite of Doctor Nolan’s reassurances, I was scared to death.
There ought, I thought, to be a ritual for being born twice patched, retreaded and approved for the road, I was trying to think of an appropriate one when Doctor Nolan appeared out of nowhere and touched me on the shoulder.
All right, Esther.
I rose and followed her to the door..and guided myself by them (the doctors), as by a magical thread, I stepped into the room. (pg.199)

This particular assessment is significant to the rest of the work because Esther goes through a drastic change in order to get where she is now. At the start of the novel, Esther is seen as very intelligent, yet she faces the woman’s dilemma of choosing between career and family to the ambivalence of remaining a virgin.

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