American Capitalist Society In The 19th Century

1834 Words8 Pages
Herman Melville’s Utilization of Bartleby the Scrivener: the Story of

Wall Street As a Means of Criticizing Capitalism and Its Crimes

Against Humanity

Herman Melville's "Bartleby, The Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street"

scrutinizes the alienation of labor, the social ideologies and the

dehumanizing consequences of the American capitalist society in the

19th

century. Bartleby is the main character in the story. The other

characters

in the story, Ginger Nut, Nippers and Turkey, barely survive their

pragmatic enslavement because they have been brainwashed by the

ideology of

complying and acknowledging their given place in society. Bartleby

separates himself from the other scriveners by daringly preferring not

to

surrender to the capitalistic authority. In 1856, Wall Street in New

York

City was solidly established. The 19th century brought an

"organizational

revolution"(Marx 102) to America which resulted in the creation of the

banking and credit establishments, brokerage houses and a prosperous

stock

exchange. A few years before Melville wrote Bartleby there were heated

conflicts between wage slaves and capitalists. Goods were beginning to

cost

less to produce

Lander Shafer 1 and craftsman could not produce goods so easily or

quickly.

Hostility and anger between craftsman and capitalists began to cause

street

riots. Visualize the drudgery of a repetitive task for hours a day.

Think

of losing all your inspiration and intelligent independence to the

degree

where your career becomes nothing more than a robotic reaction. We can

see

clearly how dissatisfying and hollowing a mundane task can be everyday.

So,

what can the unsatisfied worker do about their lowly position? First,

the

worker becom...

... middle of paper ...

...artleby, the Scrivener,' ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance

40

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The

Marx-Engels Reader. Ed. Robert C. Tucker. New York: W.W Norton and

Company,

1978. 146-200 Marx, Karl. "Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of

1844."

The Marx- Engels Reader. Ed. Robert C. Tucker. New York: W.W Norton and

Company, 1978. 66-132

Kuebrich, David, " Melville's Doctrine of Assumptions: The Hidden

Ideology

of Capitalist Production in 'Bartleby.' New England Quarterly Vol.69,

1996

Sept., 381-405

VAES, J., PALADINO, M. P., CASTELLI, L., LEYENS, J-Ph., & GIOVANAZZI,

A.

(2003). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 85, pp.

1016-

1034.

http://attitudes2disability.wordpress.com/2007/02/27/the-traditional-

model/. Retrieved 2009-10-12. "ableist model". wordpress. last modified

2007.
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