Sunday, September 7, 2008


Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!

These two sentences spoken by the narrator in Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener, indicate a sort of ultimate exasperation. It seems the exasperation was caused by the mysteries of life going unanswered, the terrible truth of helplessness in our march toward death, and confusion on where we might fit in. Bartleby represented a human life, in some respects. His origins were unknown, his work ethic began as strong and determined. But slowly he began to disagree with his plight, preferring other options, different situations, and less mundane conditions. However, his preferences did not fit the social scheme or the world he was born to. He was crushed and outcast and misunderstood for his deviations. Have we not often been forlorn at times when faced with what seems to be an absurd and fruitless endeavor? Hopelessness had wrecked the mind and very soul of poor Bartleby, and the narrator saw that hopelessness in humanity, too. The enigmas of life going unsolved, and the inability to do too much about it deserves those concurrent exclamation points. The frustration and angst is almost palpable with Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity! . This raw emotion from the narrator evokes equally powerful thought and introspection from the reader, and it is awesome.

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