Bartleby Dead Letter Office Analysis

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EJ Burden: November 22, 2017
How is Bartleby's occupation in 'the dead letter office' directly related to his ultimate existence and the theme of morality? The dead letters within the office represent our mortality and the shortcomings of our greatest intentions. These letters are never delivered to their recipient, and are a failure in terms of communication. For some reason or other, the letters destination is never reached and the sender has failed to communicate their message. In relation to language, it is a failure to find a connection. In that way, Dead Letters serve as a symbol for disconnection. The Dead Letter Office is an environment of sterile lifelessness where the mail serves as an analogy for the drudgery experienced in Bartleby’s
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The real death is actually found in the act of living. In the story, living is a long drawn out process where people (us) are subjected to exhausting meaningless tasks and projects. Life is simply submission to purposelessness. "Bartleby had been a subordinate clerk in the Dead Letter Office at Washington"-The idea of undeliverable letters that "speed to death," even when they go "on errands of life" is admittedly horrific and unfortunate (29). The lawyer noted that the disposal of these dead parchments was most likely the most fitting job for that or the character Bartleby. This leads me to wonder weather or not the job with the dead letter was the cause for what Bartleby is, or was the job appealing to Bartleby simply because he was already dead inside. In the narrative The undelivered letters are scorched in flames by the masses. The narrator envisions the letters may have been able to provide hope, or joy, or forgiveness; but this acknowledgement only increases the meekness of the already horrific process. Most of the intended recipients already passed or moved on in some form and are never able to experience their undelivered …show more content…
When asked to do anything, Bartleby repeatedly mentioned that he ‘chose’ not to do it.. Bartleby never stopped repeating that he chose not to when asked or told to do anything. Similarly to that of the Dead Letter Office, both he and it exist, yet neither offers anything constructive to anyone else. A dead letter has no option of being returned nor facilitated, just as Bartleby would refuse to work whether he was requested or instructed. When Bartleby passes, He symbolically expresses his withdraw into indifference. Of course physically Bartleby’s death was caused by malnutrition and ultimately his choice not to eat. Unable to leave his work, it is reasonable to assume Bartleby was not functioning at a logical mental level, but it can be concluded that after his arrest, he finally received the attention he so desperately desired. The narrator concludes with the notoriously quoted: "Ah, Bartleby! Ah, humanity!" (29). The tone of his final statement is one of a painful resignation. The shriek let out by the lawyer was most likely one of hurt and regret- not one of frustration. Despite all his efforts, he can do noting to change human

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