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Essay on Herman Melville's Bartleby, the Scrivener

Assignment id 1003213
Discipline Self Improvement
Assignment type Essay
Words 1914
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Herman Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener" The narrator states quite early on in Herman Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener" that both he and Bartleby are "sons of Adam" (55). The phrase plays on a double entendre, referring to both the Calvinist Biblical Eden and to the opinion of America as the "new Eden." Many recent critics have traced the biblical areas of this and other elemen ts of the narrative, claiming that the essence of Bartleby as a Christ-figure, and as such carries out the part of a redeemer.1 The story, however, is not Bartleby's, but instead the narrator's. "Bartleby" is concurrently a biography of a scriven er and also an autobiography about a person, also Melville uses this story to assault the mythology past autobiographers like Benjamin Franklin created concerning the archetypal, self indulgent American guy - the newest sons of Adam. For Melville, it proved to be a mythology and character that no longer applied since it encouraged a burgeoning class of capitalists, destined in the future to turn into the "robber barons," who put a higher value on the pragmatic ethics espoused by Franklin than on humankind. This "Adam" with that which the narrator identifies, becomes at once both the Biblical Adam and R. W. B. Lewis' "American Adam." And through this new-fallen Adam, Melville condemns those character traits most appreciated by ancient American autobiographers such as Franklin. "I know of no Character living nor many of these put together, who has so much in his powers as Thyself to promote a larger Spirit of early and Industry focus to Industry, Frugality, and Temperance together with American Youth " wrote Abel James in a letter to advocate Franklin on using the Autobiography(Franklin 134). This slightly prophetic letter declares wh...

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