Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bartleby's Existence

The meaning and drive for life, obviously, varies greatly from one individual to another. But for most of us our meaning is, in one way or another, constrained to the regulations and normality’s that society places upon us. And disregard for those regulations is, by default, sought to be changed and corrected, because a difference within society is disliked, sometimes with reason; sometimes not. The root of that dislike is understanding, when the reason for a person’s actions is not understandable, the immediate response is the desire to change and correct the difference. One can choose to exist within society or not, but for the insane it is not their choice. With Bartleby, in Bartleby, the Scrivener, the distinction between sanity and insanity is not discernable; thus, making his character extremely interesting, because the reader is in constant search for his reasoning but is left only with his or her own interpretation.

Through my own speculation into Bartleby’s abnormalities, I found Bartleby to be partly insane, because to exist by choice outside of society must take someone completely void of care, and to be totally careless is partly insane. He lacked care and emotion, because he seemed to deem them unnecessary, he did what he wanted to do without the need for considering the consequences.

He found no need for what conventional society deemed appropriate, because his meaning and necessities for life were satisfied by merely existing as himself. His desire to do nothing but copy was simply because he did not need or choose to do anything else. As we read, his “I would prefer not to” sufficed nearly every possible situation.

His death is my case and point; he lost his desire to exist as a being. And by his choice starved himself to the point of death, and he did this not because of emotional pain, or that he was depressed, but rather proving his freedom from the confines of society, because society deemed him controllable.

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