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 direct rays from the sun penetrate the building. At the other end the wall is in an everlasting shade, and is black with age. As the narrator say, the walls have something in common: they are equally "deficient in what landscape painters call life'." "The difference in color is less important than the fact that what we see through each window is just a wall" (Marx). Those walls are the walls that Bartleby stared at for hours everyday. Is it the lifeless view he stared at that made his soul lifeless, the walls that made him give up on life?
"What ultimately killed this writer, was not the walls themselves, but the fact that he confused the walls built by men with the walls of human mortality" (Marx). Bartleby's confusion of stone with finitude argues Marx, shows the psychosis of a madman reduced the latter for the former (Timothy J. Deines).
The Bust of Cicero, a Roman orator, that is a few inches above the lawyers head in the office symbolizes Bartleby's lifeless life (sparknotes). Throughout my reading of the topic I saw that many commentators have compared Bartleby to a piece of office equipment like a scanner or a copy machine. Indeed, at some points in the story he does seem to be a mere office furnishing.
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