Bartleby the Scrivener as a Romantic

Topics: Romanticism, Herman Melville, Neoclassicism Pages: 2 (439 words) Published: March 29, 2006
"Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville is a very interesting story. It is in fact an allegory I believe. It is a great example of the debate between Neoclassicism and Romanticism. It is also a satire on the office world.

Bartleby, the title character, is a Romantic living in a Neoclassic world – that being the office. What more the epitome of boredom and order than that of a scrivener: having to copy the same documents over and over again following with checking them to see if all are exactly the same! The closest thing Bartleby has to a "friend" is his boss. The boss hires Bartleby without question and quickly grows to like him. However, soon Bartleby "prefers not to" do his work and becomes totally unreasonable. The boss is patient, and goes with this for a while, yet soon things start to get out of hand. He isn't even allowed into his own offices every morning! There comes a point in which the boss is about to strike Bartleby with all his anger, but he catches himself and feels guilt ridden and disgusted. This shows him as being a Neoclassicist, as he still has order and control, yet not fully in the classic way. Even though he is civil to Bartleby, still he is doing nothing productive to either get rid of or help Bartleby; he is caring, selfless, and humane. Because of this, I see the Boss as being an example of what Romanticism does to Neoclassicism. Kelly 2

Bartleby truly does beat to his own drum in a most extreme way. He dares to be himself so far that he dies from not eating. While most people would say he is crazy, a Romanticist would say that he was doing the right thing by following his own free will.

I see this story as a case of two colliding worldviews, with of course one, in this being Romanticism, coming out on top, albeit bitter sweetly. We see the changes Bartleby has made to the boss, or is it that the boss has had it inside him all along? After all, Romanticism is very human and the truth is said to be in...
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