The Study of Literature: Essay 2
April 9, 2015
In Herman Melville’s work “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street”, the idea of a capitalist agenda is intentionally reinforced. This short work tells the story of a lawyer on Wall-Street and those of his employees, but he is particularly fascinated by Bartleby. Bartleby at first a hard worker who divulged tirelessly in his job as a law-copyist begins to “ prefer not” to do what is asked of him. This leads to the lawyer to grow increasingly curious about Bartleby. The idea of capitalist values in “Bartleby the Scrivener” are supported through the way the narrator, the lawyer, presents his employees to the reader, describes meeting Bartleby and Bartleby’s refusal.
The first way in which the work reinforces a capitalist agenda is in the lawyer’s introduction of the scrivener (Reed, 247). “ Ere introducing the scrivener, as he first appeared to me, it is fit I make some mention of myself, my employees, my business, my chambers, and general surroundings; (Bartleby, 2)” The narrator does not say I met Bartleby, but that Bartley appeared to him which might lead the reader to think of the lawyer as a man who has been in a profession of law for years and in this profession meeting individuals would be referred to an “appearance (Reed, 247).” This reinforces capitalist values because the lawyer is a wealthy man and he views his employees as appearances and not as human beings. The narrator also presents himself as an individual of higher rank, “ I am one of those unambitious lawyers who never addresses a jury, or in a way draws down public applause; but in the cool tranquillity of a snug retreat, do a snug business among rich men’s bonds and mort...
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...8). When Bartleby is asked to review his work he replies, “ I would prefer not to”. This refusal by Bartleby is seen as a critique of labor and capitalism (Reed, 255). His refusal to do what is asked of him is seen as Bartleby’s rejection of this capitalistic society. A society that has oppressed him and in turn he feels the need to be able to take control of his own life (Reed, 255).
Therefore, through Bartleby, The Scrivener it intentionally reinforces capitalists values. It conveys all of the aspects where trade and industry are owned by single multi millionaire companies that run it for private profits. In this short work, there were many examples that were provided to validate this type of mechanism in Wall Street, New York. Marxist theory would abolish this type of management of the economy because it is an unfair share of money and unfair use of its employees.
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