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Examples Of Individualism In Bartleby The Scrivener

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According to the University of Houston, common Romantic literary themes include the expressions of feelings, emotions, and imagination; characters that celebrate individualism; and the display of "outsiders" as worthy of literary respect. In "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street," many Romantic characteristics are seen. This short story is a prime example of where a narrator's feelings are shown; throughout the story, the narrator remarks about how Bartleby's passive resistance makes him feel. One of the most notable cases of where the narrator shares his emotions is when he remarks, "for the first time in my life a feeling of overpowering stinging melancholy seized me" (p. 308). Also, the narrator deals with his complex feelings…show more content…
As defined by Cambridge Dictionary, individualism means that the idea that freedom of thought and action for each person is the most important quality of a society. Every time Bartleby responds to another character's statement or question by saying, "I would prefer not to," this is a classic example of individualism. Bartleby's freedom of thought and action are shown because he is not following the typical actions of the other employees. Even though this individualism may be a classical example of Romantic literature, this characteristic of Bartleby leads to him being isolated and could be argued that it leads to his desolate existence and death. The ending of this story is woeful, but it accomplishes Melville's goal-that "outsiders" are valuable enough to be written about. With Melville's complex and chaotic life likely an inspiration for the Bartleby character, Melville's "outsider" status due to his failures as an author led to an important Romantic characteristic being included in this work. Although Melville's short story may have a plethora of Romantic literary elements, there are various reasons why it could be argued that it sits outside of a truly Romantic
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