Bartleby the Scrivener, a Deeply Symbolic Work
"Bartleby the Scrivener," is one of the most complicated stories Melville has ever written, perhaps by any American writer of that period. It id a deep and symbolic work, its make you think of every little detail differently. It makes you realize that a little detail actually make a difference and give a meaning to the story analysis. The walls are controlling symbols of the story; in fact some had said that it's a parable of walls. Melville tells us explicitly that certain prosaic facts are indispensable to understand a story (Leo Marx 1970). One of the walls, which is part of sky-light shaft, is white. And it provides the best light available, with the sky invisible. There is no
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Classifying the letters day in and day out could eventually be difficult for any human being to endure for a long time, and such repetitive tasks are even today a common source of melancholy, desperation and depression for some employees. By making them Dead Letters, Melville makes the depressing nature of such task more explicit (sparknotes). Bartleby changes his job as if was willing to write letters (or copies) for some time, but when he was asked to read the copies he wrote he preferred not to. For a short time he finds some satisfaction in the creation (rather than the destruction) of the letters, but in the end he is unable to do even that (sparknotes). Did Melville choose this occupation to point out the dead end of all humanity? Or was to explain Bartleby's odd behavior? Thinking of Bartleby as "art work", with his death pointing to the inability to die, to disappear, as Gils interpreted it. It is an artwork according to William Haver, "is an existential comportment that in its very happening acknowledges that what is at issue is not a surface that presumptively conceals the depth of being's being, but the surface that is being's most profound depth". Bartleby's death is his inability to die, that is his death is the knowledge that his death will not consequence in total annihilation. Bartleby had faced his existential despair, found meaning for himself in death, and fixed himself in the process, while the lawyer and the readers keep wondering.