Characters with a Twist

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Characters are very important to a story. They help to build up the interest of readers so that they want to continue reading. Many stories base their themes on how the characters act and what they do. A theme is a meaning or a point to the story, which the author wants you to get out of it. Two stories which utilize characters very well to build up theme are, "Bartleby the Scrivener," by Herman Melville, and "The Flight of Betsey Lane," by Sarah Orne Jewett. These two stories build the theme of individualism up with their unique characters in their stories.

In each of these stories, they start out with intense descriptions of the characters. Each story describes the subtle but important difference between each character. However, with the main characters, differences are much more prominent. For example, in "Bartleby the Scrivener," one of the main characters, the narrator, whose name we never learn, is a "rather elderly man" who works as a boring lawyer (Melville 26). He is referred to as a "safe" man because he never goes to court and only deals in things like mortgages, tile deeds, and bonds (Melville 26).

Another main character, Bartleby, is a scrivener newly hired by the narrator. He represents individuality because of the many interesting and strange things he does. For example, Bartleby never wants to do anything that the narrator directs him to do. Bartleby always responds coolly with," I prefer not to "to the narrator's every request (Melville 31). In a normal society, a worker usually would respond with a "yes" and carry out the job. In this case, Bartleby stands out greatly.

Betsey in "The Flight of Betsey Lane" also represents individualism. Since Betsey is so old, (sixty-nine), what is expected of her is to stay at home and tend to the chores of keeping the house clean. Betsey is a very curious woman who wants to go to the centennial in Philadelphia (Jewett 55). However, since she is quite old and she lacks the funds to do...
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