Great Short Works of Herman Melville Themes

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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 808 words
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Buy the Great Short Works of Herman Melville Study Guide
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