Herman Melville's Bartleby, The Scrivener

Better Essays
This essay will explore the narrative perspective of Herman Melville’s’ ‘Bartleby, the Scrivener’ and Peter Carrey’s’ ‘American Dreams’ and how narration can affect the way in which a story is read. Both of these authors use the narrator to tell the story in a different manner, all with different perspectives. McCall states “narrators are unreliable by definition. Fiction told in the first person is inherently deceptive” (1989, p.106) and this biased point of view obviously affects the readers perception of the story and how the message is conveyed. Any literature written from the point of view of another character would be completely different and hold another perspective entirely and would therefore show the reader a different account. A …show more content…
Unreliable narrators can leave the whole account feeling untrustworthy and misleading and also forces the reader to think about the story from another perspective. This is a tool many authors use to encourage a deeper level of thinking and create more layers within the narrative (Crossen, 2011). This unreliability of the narrator can also make them a more relatable, human figure and this can help the reader connect.

Herman Melville’s lawyer in ‘Bartleby, the Scrivener’ has often been called an unreliable narrator (McCall, 1989, p.99) and this greatly affects the story and the message that is conveyed. The lawyer spends a large amount of time focussing on redeeming himself rather than actually helping Bartleby, even stating “here I can cheaply purchase delicious self-approval. To befriend Bartleby; to humour him in his strange wilfulness, will cost me little or nothing, while I lay up in my soul what will eventually prove a sweet morsel for my conscience” (Melville, 1853). He
…show more content…
Melville’s lawyer although generally considered an unreliable narrator is an everyman figure that many can relate to, making the story more engaging as well as interesting with many different layers. The point of view of the lawyer is one that is still analysed today over 150 years after being written. In comparison Carey’s young boy attempts to include other perspectives in his narrative and Carey uses his point of view to show the conflict between reality and representation, a theme echoed throughout the story. Both authors use the tool of narration in different ways and to different

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    The exact cause of such a transformation is unknown and because of this, readers begin to question their actions and how that will influence them now and in the future. In addition, James and Kafka both cause confusion because of the open ended way the texts are written. This is initiated in The Turn of the Screw by seemingly incomplete bits of information. The sources of information always leave the statements up for interpretation. Both of the stories also use sympathy to really emphasize the lack of knowledge that is known towards the characters.…

    • 1127 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    A huge portion of English pros could be potentially be considered as bad pros because we as humans do not recognize these problems, Dying Metaphors, False Limbs, Pretentious Diction, and Meaningless Words all are substantial in the creation of unprincipled English writing. Thus, the usage of these no matter who the writer is, a columnist for the New York Times, a civil rights activist, a scientist, or even the President of the United States, can fall victim to grips that can constrain the writing, and be classified as Orwell’s examples of bad…

    • 823 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Throughout the chapter, Mary Anne’s actions seem unrealistic and a bit exaggerated. Many of O’Brien’s stories in the novel have most of the criteria of a true war story. By using this technique, O’Brien makes the story more realistic and lets the reader feel connected. Sometimes, he has to make up events only to let the reader understand what war really is and what it does to people. In his novel, he tries to show that not all good things always happen in a war as in most shown in the war movies.…

    • 1146 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    His language seemed foreign and inverse, which usually intimidates the common reader. He uses many rhetorical devices to construct the very arguments that he may be trying to persuade. This technique is called antithesis, which is an opposition between two things. The most famous antithesis Shakespeare uses is “To be, or not to be” (18). This clarifies the question he is asking himself.…

    • 2315 Words
    • 10 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    When reading a book, readers quickly label characters as heroes or villains. However, some author’s make this categorizing process very difficult by introducing complex characters. While these types of characters are more realistic, for they resemble real people by being difficult to understand, they challenge the reader’s understanding. The complexity of such characters’ force readers to question the meaning of labels such as ‘hero’ or ‘villain’. Likewise, both Nathaniel Hawthorn, author of The Scarlet Letter, and Toni Morrison, author of Sula, force their readers to question the meaning of the word ‘hero’ through their main characters: Hester Prynne and Sula Peace.…

    • 1212 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Diction/figurative language and imagery The Trial is filled to the brim with allegorical, surreal imagery, events and environments. In fact, many events are so absurd that they are in the grey area between literal and metaphorical. In the end, it’s all up to the reader who discerns whether something actually happened or not. This method of writing, achieves the basic end result in regards to the plot, but also succeeds in disorienting the reader and allows for more interpretation. Franz Kafka’s diction constantly reinforces the tone and mood of the novel as despondent.…

    • 1673 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The Catcher In The Rye is a novel written by J.D. Salinger, which digs into many controversial ideas all throughout. While the audience is being presented with one piece of evidence, there is often something that will immediately contradict this point. Often, this was due to the fact that Holden Caulfield, the main character, was questionable in his thoughts and actions. For example, throughout the book, the audience can find that he calls many people “phonies” but falls into some of the behaviour that he identifies as phony himself.…

    • 1147 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Novels are, after all, just characters interacting in fabricated plots to expose each other’s faults in turn, communicating some greater message about the human condition as naturally judgmental. Many who analyze popular works of fiction, such as The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, fail to notice the narrator of the story as a character to be analyzed like any other; the narrator, Nick Caraway, despite his claims of honesty and objectivity within the first couple pages of the novel, should be questioned on his reliability as the narrator of the novel. Only by understanding the character that acts as a lens through which we see every other person of perhaps more importance, can the reader understand Fitzgerald’s message. However, regardless of which way it is interpreted, there is no way for the reader to consider Nick as honest throughout the novel. His emotional involvement and clear bias make him turn a blind eye to many…

    • 1359 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    As humans, we often we look into mirrors - both literal and figurative - to find a reflection of ourselves. That reflection, however, is typically vastly different from how we are perceived by others: our friends; our families; our enemies. In the same way, we read literary fiction and find a reflection glaring back at us, a reflection that imprints in our psyches the fantasies we long to find as truths in our lives. Yet collectively, our readings of literature produce in each of us vastly different reflections, representative of the vastly different fantasies that are derived from our individual perceptions and interpretations of the world. It is this variance in reflections of the world drawn from reading and writing literature that Varga…

    • 1009 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    However, Lewis assumes he is part of the “few” and he makes this same assumption about the reader; creating a narcissistic and pompous tone. Lewis’s methodology of making his claim is by referencing other works of literature. This pouring of references to other literature beleaguers the reader, becoming tiresome. What Lewis should have done was use moderate references to cut down on the quantity of references to strengthen his argument. Lewis’s strength is using many similes, metaphors, and examples throughout the text.…

    • 799 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays