�Bartleby, the Scrivener� by HC121108021119


									“Bartleby, the Scrivener”

      Herman Melville
• Scrivener = law copyist (before copy
• Turkey and Nippers are the nicknames of
  other scriveners
• Read the passage on the next page; ask
  questions if needed.
   Shall I acknowledge it? The conclusion of this
  whole business was, that it soon became a fixed
 fact of my chambers, that a pale young scrivener,
by the name of Bartleby, had a desk there; that he
copied for me at the usual rate of four cents a folio
   (one hundred words); but he was permanently
exempt from examining the work done by him, that
duty being transferred to Turkey and Nippers, one
      of compliment doubtless to their superior
acuteness; moreover, said Bartleby was never on
  any account to be dispatched on the most trivial
  errand of any sort; and that even if entreated to
    take upon him such a matter, it was generally
  understood that he would prefer not to–in other
       words, that he would refuse point-blank.
 When do you think this passage
was written? What makes you think
• 1800s
• Old words like “chambers” and “folio”
• Old concepts like copying documents by
• Pay of four cents per page
  Where do you think the passage
          takes place?
• Some sort of office
  – Copying pages
  – Running errands
  How do you think this setting
compares with office environments
• Different – we have computers and copy
• Same – employees who are difficult,
How relevant do you think this is to
  modern-day society? Can you
imagine a similar situation existing
• Similar relationships exist even if the work
  is different
• Yes – there’s always that one employee
  who is difficult, loses everything, or has
  some other quirk that is inexplicably
  As you read the article “So
 You’re a Nowhere Man in a
Nowhere World, Now Get Back
   to Work,” answer these
 In what year did Herman Melville
   finish writing “Moby Dick”? About
      how many years later did he
• 1841
• 50 years later
      What are considered some of
        Melville’s greatest works?
•   Billy Budd (novella)
•   The Confidence Man (novel)
•   The Piazza Tales (short story collection)
•   Moby Dick (novel)
   Why, according to the article’s
       author, was Melville’s work
    largely forgotten during his own
• He was so far ahead of his time
    Why does the article’s author
    consider Melville “the forefather
    of Kafka, and also of ‘Dilbert’”?
• It is the first story about office workplaces
  and office culture.
 What are some examples of film
   adaptations of Melville’s work
   that have been done in recent
• Beau Travail (based on Billy Budd)
• Pola X (based on Pierre)
• Bartleby
Who wrote the most recent version
   of “Bartleby,” starring Crispin
       Glover in the title role?
• Jonathan Parker
• Catherine di Napoli
   Where does this modernized
     version of “Bartleby” take
• A “surreal contemporary nowhere world”
  Who plays the boss in this film
        version of the story?
• David Paymer
What is “farce,” and how, according
   to the article, does it help save
     the story’s “literary gloom”?
• Farce: A comic dramatic work using
  buffoonery and horseplay and typically
  including crude characterization and
  ludicrously improbable situations.
• The humor balances the depressing
 How is the office setting of the
   modern version of “Bartleby”
    described in the article?
• “understated putrescence”
• Putrescence: becoming putrid: a state of
  foul decay or decomposition, as animal or
  vegetable matter; rotten. (dictionary.com)
     Why is Bartleby’s “refusal…”
     considered “at once suicidal and
•   He’s totally irrational
•   Yet totally understandable
•   We all wish to behave like this
•   But know we would lose our jobs
Why does the author consider the
   short film “Upheaval” to be a
   perfect compliment to the film
  based on Melville’s “Bartleby”?
• It’s also stingingly critical
• But of the upper class and of marriage
  relationships instead of the workplace
Bartleby Analysis Questions
  Bartleby seems stubborn, self-absorbed, rebellious, and insubordinate, yet the boss and many readers sympathize with him.

 Explain what feeling or desire we
   have in common with him that
 allows us to do so. Do we always
act on this feeling or desire? Why or
               why not?
• Answers will vary.
  Why does Bartleby use the word
   “prefer” when refusing to work
 rather than saying he “will not” do
• It is a passive resistance;
• its passivity is bewildering to those around
  him, preventing their own resistance;
• it subsequently wreaks havoc in the office
  and the narrator’s life.
 Why does Bartleby stare at blank
walls so much?                            Remember that Melville is a Romantic author, thus finds meaning in nature –
          consider how this contrasts with the setting in which “Bartleby” takes place.

• Bartleby is walled in, cut off from nature,
  where he can find meaning.
• Note that at the end of the story he spends
  time on the small patch of grass in the
• The industrial age and his mindless job
  have ruined him.
What does Bartleby’s previous job
in the dead letters office suggest
       about his character?
• Just as the letters cannot get to their
  intended recipients, Bartleby is blocked
  from achieving anything by being cut off
  from nature and being disallowed
  autonomy over his own life.
• Bartleby’s life is dead and meaningless
  like the lost letters.
     What is Melville trying to
 communicate through Bartleby’s
death at the end of the story?
         that Bartleby is just too stubborn or lazy – is that what Melville is trying to say?
                                                                                                Many people assume

• It shows how the industrialization of
  America narrows the horizons of
  individuals, reduces them to machines,
  and kills their spirits.
 What is the theme of this story?
Support your answer with evidence
          from the story.
• People need purpose in their lives.
• People need contact with nature to be
• Reducing someone to a machine is
  damaging to their spirit.
Romantic Story Analysis Chart
   Interest in the common man &
• characters are common workers
• Bartleby seems innocent like a child
   Strong senses, emotions and
• Narrator is confused & bewildered by
• Bartleby seems very depressed
            Love of Nature
• Absence of nature leads to Bartleby’s
  isolation, depression and death
  Celebration of the Individual
• Bartleby is misunderstood by his society…
• but readers sympathize with him.
    Importance of imagination
• Story is pretty realistic…
• …but lack of imagination kills Bartleby
        Gothic elements
• N/A

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