Batelby Thescrivener

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CS Lewis is quoted as having said that “Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful”. While there are many quotes to this effect the point does not differ between them, That is, that while “He who is merely just, is severe”, one must find a balance between justice and mercy in order for the legal sytem to work. In Melville’s story “Bartleby the scrivener” he shows us the flaws in both law without compassion and mercy without law. Through the narrator’s eyes we see, first how mercy without justice can erode the power of the law, and then how justice without compassion can destroy the person. In the movie “Batman Begins” the Antagonist Henri Ducard tells the protagonist Bruce Wayne “Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society's understanding”. This line is brought to life in the beginning of the story as we see the narrator’s reaction to Bartelby’s refusal to work that is required of him. Within a few days of Bartelby’s refusal the author begins to excuse these transgressions with the pity and compassion that he feels for Bartelby. This is evident when the lawyer tells us “Poor fellow! Thought I, he means no mischief; it is plain he intends no insolence; his aspect sufficiently evinces that his eccentricities are involuntary”. While the narrator tells us how he at various times tries to impose what he sees as fair and balanced justice, he folds and allows Bartelby to continue in his way when Bartelby refuses. This Melville shows us, leads to the very system of the office being thrown slightly into disarray, as the others are involuntarily subject to cover for the work that Bartelby refuses to do. As this continues we slowly see the lawyer’s merciful tendencies be pushed to their limit and then brought back just as fast as we bounce between his feelings of pity and exasperation. Finally the building frustration at last allow the narrator to feel justified in the imprisoning of a man who more likely needs to be in a mental clinic. Here at this point we see...
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