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Great Short Works of Herman Melville Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 54 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Great Short Works of Herman Melville.
This section contains 800 words
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Themes

The Alienating Impact of Scientific Progress

Many of the stories in the collection deal specifically with the alienating impact of scientific progress. Examples are common—Bartleby is dehumanized by modern business practices; in The Two Temples theatrical plays replace Christian worship; the machine in The Happy Failure consumes the narrator's uncle's passions; the Lightning-Rod man peddles ineffective protection from nature; the women in The Tartarus of Maids are tormented by their horrific factory working conditions; Bannadonna is killed by his invention in The Bell-Tower; and in I and My Chimney the narrator struggles to retain his old, unimproved, chimney; in The Piazza the narrator examines the nature of happiness and equates it with solitude. Throughout the collection, Melville always links scientific or social 'progress' with a loss of humanity. For example, when the swamp-draining machine in The Happy Failure proves unworkable and is demolished, the would-be inventor suddenly...

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This section contains 800 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Great Short Works of Herman Melville Study Guide
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Great Short Works of Herman Melville from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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