Freedom and Compassion in Life of a Slave Girl and Bartleby, the Scrivener

Freedom and Compassion in Life of a Slave Girl and Bartleby, the Scrivener

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Freedom is a notion that varies for an individual; it is vast and attainable in many ways, even though not everyone gets to achieve it. It can be created and found in many places within the person or from others. It is indeed related to a variety of abstract ideas or derived from them. In Linda Brent's slave narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and Herman Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street," freedom is defined by personal space, shown through the complex relationship with compassion from others. Brent received lending hands in her journey to become free, but it was not achieved through others' help. The people were there for her to lean on, especially her grandmother. She had friendship and assistance when needed, but ultimately she was on her own because others could not grant her freedom. On the other hand, the kind of compassion the lawyer showed Bartleby was the benefit of the doubt. With the slack that the lawyer gave to Bartleby, it allowed Bartleby to do as he wished in the office. Even though he did not fully reach freedom outside in the real world, it was the freedom inside the office that mattered most for Bartleby. Compassion in these two stories did not directly guide the characters to freedom, but supported them.
In Linda Brent’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Brent’s grandmother showed her compassion by giving her a place she could call home. Her grandmother provided a place in her desperate hours of needs; she had to hide from her slave owners at her grandmother’s house. Even though the home was a hiding place with horrible living conditions, Brent preferred it over slavery, as she stated, "It seemed horrible to sit or lie in a cramped position day after day, without gl...


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...dhearted grandmother. Bartleby was able to be free in his workplace because the lawyer allowed him so. Therefore, both characters' relationships with others, who showed compassion and understanding, helped them to overcome obstacles and reach freedom. Brent’s grandmother was a positive aspect in her life through support, and it made Brent believe there was still humanity or hope. Bartleby got the lawyer to let him do as he pleased, although it was the result of the lawyer's selfishness. Nevertheless, the lawyer did care for Bartleby and tried to help him, even if he was unsuccessful in the end. Each character had different approaches to freedom, and got there on their own, with nothing given to them but support. The acts of kindness and knowledge of the fact that good-hearted people still existed were ultimately enough for Brent and Bartleby to reach their freedom.

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