Bartleby The Scrivener And The Hunger Artist Essay example

Bartleby The Scrivener And The Hunger Artist Essay example

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Alienation, the state of being isolated from a group or category that one should be apart of, exists in three forms; man’s alienation from man, man’s alienation from fellow men, and man’s alienation from the world itself. These three classes of alienation are fluid phases of the same process that exists to some extent within every member of society. The intriguing and complex nature of alienation has sparked the interest of many philosophers, artists, and authors around the world, resulting in works of art and literature that attempt to give insight into living life alone. Authors Herman Melville and Frank Kafka both reveal the struggles of functioning set apart from society through the protagonists in their respective short stories; Bartleby the Scrivener, and The Hunger Artist. The overall theme of marginalization in society in both Bartleby the Scrivener and The Hunger Artist is revealed through the way alienation is presented in both short stories. To be alienated for Bartleby and The Hunger Artist is to lose a connection to more than just oneself, as revealed through the characters living conditions and lack of information about the protagonists themselves. Both short stories address the reaction from society towards the main characters in a way that parallels the treatment of individuals living isolated in communities today.
The narrator begins the short story Bartleby the Scrivener by “waiving the biographies of all other scriveners for a few passages in the life of Bartleby, who was a scrivener of the strangest I ever saw or heard of” (pg). Bartleby appears at first as a “pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn,” (pg) character who is hired by the narrator because of his sedate nature, which he hoped would...


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...find a food that he enjoyed. If I had found that, believe me, I would not have made a spectacle of myself and would have eaten to my heart’s content” (pg). The decline from fame to misfortune occurs rapidly in the case of the hunger artist, as opposed to the steady downfall of Bartleby, and his lack of physical interaction is the greatest indicator of his loss of popularity in society.
Marginalization, or the process of relegating specific groups of people to the outer edge of society, has taken place within populations all of the world, wether is is intentional or not. Human nature is inherently inclined to turn away from that which they do not understand, wether the difference is physical or mental, and both Bartleby and The Hunger Artist can be examined to reveal the actions of society as an individual is separated from it. In both short stories the protagonist

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