Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bartleby, the Scrivener; A tale of hopelessness and wonder

Melville when writing Bartleby the scrivener uses imagery to evoke a sense of hopelessness and bleakness, he does this by painting a very basic repetitive image in the reader’s head. This is created straight at the beginning as he states; ‘Bartleby was one of those beings whom nothing was ascertainable’ this creates a sense of hopelessness because Bartleby is shown to be a person whom cannot obtain any knowledge. This can also be seen as bleak because if hypothetically he cannot learn then how is he able to advance in life, hence his future looks bleak. Hopelessness is again emphasized with the descriptions of the lawyers workers, ‘Turkey…but after 12 o’clock meridian-his dinner hour-it blazed like a grate full of Christmas coals; and continued blazing’ and then discussing the other scrivener ‘…and all time before twelve o’clock, meridian, was the quickest, steadiest creature, too, accomplishing a great deal of work.’ These quotations from the story evoke a sense of hopelessness because it seems that the lawyer is unable to attain a worker that is able to work well for the full day as he as one worker that only works well before 12 and another which only works well after 12.

       Continuing this sense of hopelessness and bleakness, Melville explains how Bartleby did an extraordinary job ‘at first’. The use of ‘at first’ creates a sense of bleakness because the reader now knows that something will go wrong eventually and the future seems to be indeed bleak. Hopelessness is then emphasized by the lawyers description of the scriveners job, ‘It is a very dull, wearisome, and lethargic affair’. The use of the words ‘dull’ and ‘lethargic’ could potentially make the reader ask the question why? Why work in a place so boring and tedious? This evokes a sense of hopelessness as they seem stuck in this dead end job and they seem unable to escape it. Melville furthermore shows hopelessness as he begins to show the change in Bartleby’s character, ‘Bartleby in a singularly mild, firm voice, replied, “I would prefer not to.”’ In refusing to accept the task a sense of bleakness is created as this represents the beginning of Bartleby’s decline and hopelessness, as we know that he will not recover from this slump. Hopelessness is finally further emphasized in this scene as the lawyer repeats his question however Bartleby again says, ‘I would prefer not too’ hopelessness is emphasized in this situation as the lawyer persisted in asking Bartleby to do this job however he keeps refusing. This shows that the lawyer is fighting a losing battle and hence his constant questioning is hopeless.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

The use of colors by Hardy in "The Son's Veto" vividly illustrates the overall feeling of the short story. From the very first sentences, Hardy utilizes colors to act as a facilitator of Sophy's emotional journey. It's only fitting that this first sentence is a description of the one constant seen throughout the tale, Sophy's "nut-brown hair." Furthermore, by adding the modifier 'nut' to the description, Hardy emphasizes the importance the protagonist places on her most prized possession. The second sentence includes much of the same, describing "...the black beaver hat, surmounted by its tuft of black feathers...." Description of another part of her body, one typically known to show the true feelings of a person, is added a few paragraphs later, noting her eyes as "soft brown orbs." And while these colors are stereotypically deemed melancholy or morose, Hardy's use of the descriptive colors counteracts this bias.

As Sophy's tale progresses, other descriptions follow, about the decrepit side of town where she resides with "sooty trees, hazy air and drab house-facades." However, when Sam re-enters her life, Sophy notices the "green bastions of cabbages" in his cart and saw how all the "fresh green-stuff brightened to life." During this bright spot in her otherwise dreary existence, Sophy's "cheeks were quite pink," and she notices the "whitish light" of the dawn.

At the end of the story, as the tale returns to sadness, Hardy highlights the emotions felt by Sam. Watching the funeral procession from his 'greenery,' Sam "looked black as a cloud" as he observed the love of his life pass by, never to have known her reciprocal feelings.