Bartleby the Scrivener, A Tale of Wall Street Essay | Bartleby: Romantic or Just Another Story?

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Bartleby: Romantic or Just Another Story?

Summary: Herman Melville's short story "Bartleby the Scrivener", despite being written during the Romantic Age, does not follow the themes of a typical romantic story. It lacks the presence of the supernatural and the lure of the exotic and unknown.
The story of Bartleby, by Herman Melville, is a comedic story about a man who refuses to do what is asked of him and is therefore isolated from his society. The story, despite being written in the time period of the romantics, is not romantic. The story lacks many necessary romantic themes that would define it as romantic, instead making it "just another story."

The first thing that the story lacks is the supernatural. There is not any of the supernatural present in the story. In fact, the only thing that seems slightly supernatural and eerie is when Bartleby says, when asked to copy a document, is "I would prefer not to"(10). The reasons for this are not told to the reader, but one can assume it is just a man tired of what he does, not influence from the supernatural. The reader can infer that his motives for not wanting to work stem from his treatment at his job, not from divine intervention. The idea of God intervening in the life of Bartleby is not even considered by Herman Melville.

Another thing that the story needs to make it romantic but lacks is the lure of the exotic. There is no lure of the unknown or exotic in the story. After the narrator says "I shall not see you again, so goodbye to you"(22), the reader is told that Bartleby has been fired. Had this been a romantic novel, Bartleby would have explored with his new freedom, instead returning to the office and "persisting in occupying the entry after being dismissed from the office"(29). This tells the reader that Bartleby in fact does not want to leave the office, and does not want to experience anything new. The allure of the unknown is an important element of romantic novels, something that this story lacks and would need before becoming one.

The story of Bartleby, despite being written in the romantic era, is not a romantic novel. The story lacks many of the necessary elements of a romantic novel, including the supernatural and the lure of the unknown. In conclusion, this story, despite being written in the romantic era, is "just another story."

Bartleby: Romantic or Just Another Story? from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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