A picture is worth a thousand words, that’s the common theme that is increasingly true in our world today. Many movie adaptations of great classic stories and literature works have been created with great visuals. Question is, do the adaptations really carry the same meaning and weight of the original written works or are the adaptions meant to open new perspectives for the audiences? This paper will, through the examining the settings, character, tone and storylines, compare and contrast the book version and movie adaptation of the classic short story " Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street " by Herman Melville. Herman Melville is regarded as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century; He authored great literary works such as “Moby Dick” which is considered his masterpiece. However before his work was commonly recognized Herman Melville was in a period of deep isolation from his readers and peers 1850 – 1891 (Nash 109), during this period in his writing career his writing focused more on the conditions of humanity instead of popular fictions, basically his works were becoming too philosophically distant for the readers and critics at the time. The short story "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" was written during this period (Mordecai 366). Many people and critics have, through the decades, engaged in many literary explorations of the story. Many interpretations of his work exist in the literature community. One such movie adaptation of the story is now called simply `Bartleby'.
The physical setting of the story between the book and movie versions are different. In the book version the physical setting was in an law office on Wall Street in New York City, and Wall Street at the time when the story was written was where the capitalist ideals was best exemplified by show of big companies starting to dominate the national economy. In the movie version the physical setting was in a city record office on a lonely hill surrounded by high ways and completely inaccessible by pedestrians. In the book version the office was stale and grey, in the movie version the office was created by mixed colors. Even though the adaptation was different in purely physical terms but it carried similar meaning to the audience. They both meant that the office was located somewhat remote from everyday life and both were quite inaccessible to normal people. Such is the setting for the story and where unique interpretations can be made.
The book version has mainly three supporting characters, Turkey, Nippers and Ginger Nuts. Each with distinct personalities and traits. They are the typical stock characters. In the movie versions the characters were created with actual names instead of nicknames, they were Ernie, Vivian and Rocky. The characters are different in their traits: in the book version Turkey was troubled by alcohol and Nippers was troubled by stomachaches while Ginger Nut’s role was mainly to facilitate Turkey and Nippers demands. In the movie version the characters were more rounded and given more detailed illustrations, especially with the character Vivian, an office secretary, the woman of many adorable talents. During one scene in the movie it was shown that Vivian had a motive to see Bartleby not succeed in the office because she was fearing that Bartleby would threaten her usefulness around the office, later also she was more eager to use her womanly charms and her command of the English language to test her ability to lure men into submission. The character of Nippers character was replaced by Rocky who was troubled by his tendency to socialize with any female around instead of food digestion problems. And the character of Turkey was replaced by Ernie who also have alcohol and financial problems. The main character Bartleby however was pretty faithfully kept and depicted by the movie version, and is evidenced by his behaviors and the...
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Mordecai, Marcus. “Melville 's Bartleby as a Psychological, Double” College English
Vol. 23, No. 5 (1962): 366. JSTOR Web. 26 Jan. 2014
Bigelow, Gordon E. "The Problem Of Symbolist Form In Melville 's "Bartleby The Scrivener.." Modern Language Quarterly 31.3 (1970): 354. Academic Search Complete. Web. 26 Jan. 2014.
Melville, Herman. "Bartleby, the Scrivener" The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford, 2012. 121-146. Print
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