• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Herman Melville's "Bartleby" is a deceptively complex short story that shows the misconstrued definition that society holds for charity.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Cassie Weigel Mr. David Olsen, Instructor ENGA 202-07 Intro to Literary Studies 8 February, 2005 Poor fellow! He means no mischief; it is plain he intends no insolence; his aspect sufficiently evinces that his eccentricities are involuntary. He is useful to me. I can get along with him... To befriend Bartleby, to humor him in his strange willfulness, will cost me little or nothing, while I lay up in my soul what will eventually prove a sweet morsel for my conscience (Melville, 13). Herman Melville's "Bartleby" is a deceptively complex short story that shows the misconstrued definition that society holds for charity. The narrator of the story, who is responsible for the above statement, represents the manner in which many approach the act of helping others - beginning with the notion of pity, the charitable often assume that those with fewer material items are in automatic need of assistance, and then, if the situation presents the potential giver no inhibitions and possible self-gratification, he feels willing to share with the less fortunate what he has. Unfortunately, as soon as the donator begins to feel hindered by the charity in the social aspects of living, it is very easy for him to brush the charitable to the side. This representation in "Bartleby" is seen when, at first, the narrator feels it is his predestinated purpose in life to furnish Bartleby with office ...read more.

Middle

went to him as the lawyer began to "stagger in his own plainest faith (11)." In fact, for a few moments the lawyer was "turned into a pillar of salt (11)" by the absurdity of Bartleby's unexpected response. The idea that the lawyer was "turned into a pillar of salt" gives much insight into Bartleby's charity to the lawyer. This Biblical allusion - Lot's wife looked back, seeking to cling to her luxurious life in Sodom and was destroyed in the overthrow of the city - shows precisely how Bartleby's purpose lies in the revelation that man clings too tightly to material things. Throughout the piece, Bartleby tries to show that certain things in life do not deserve the amount of value that man gives them. The idea of materialism dominating the lives of the lawyer and his employees is noticed, first, through the repeated reference to food. The names "Turkey" and "Gingernut" represent the more symbolic references, whereas the eating of multiple pieces of cake at a time (8), going out to lunch and dinner frequently (14), and drinking alcohol in abundance (14) show the more concrete references; it reveals that there is gluttony within these workers and that their lives have partially begun to revolve around this type of materialism. ...read more.

Conclusion

toward Bartleby are merely representative of the same pains Bartleby has when he watches mankind. The lives of men are full of the same emptiness seen outwardly in Bartleby, yet they suffer inwardly and silently so that the world continues to appear happy and misery-free. It is only through Bartleby's example that this truth is disclosed. Regrettably, the narrator fails to see and receive this charity that Bartleby offers and the narrator sends Bartleby to his "Tomb" where he eventually dies of starvation. One could argue that if Bartleby were such a significantly strong character and presence in this story, it would be unreasonable for him to seemingly give up and die from lack of food. However, it is through this sacrifice that the his message resounds strongest. It shows that even when the narrator treats Bartleby with undo disrespect, Bartleby stands firm and "prefers not to quit" the narrator and will instead serve as an example for all mankind. It gives the rest of humanity a sense of hope: "he whom it would relieve nor eats nor hungers any more; pardon for those who died despairing; hope for those who died unhoping; good tidings for those who died stifled by unrelieved calamities (34)." This shows that although man is a fallible being, there is something beyond human comprehension that is willing to forgive humanity for its many mistakes. In a sense, that is the greatest charity of all. ?? ?? ?? ?? Weigel 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Charities, Poverty and Development section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Charities, Poverty and Development essays

  1. In order for the charitable trust to be valid several factors have to be ...

    also states that the Charity Commissioners may also direct that subsection 6 does not apply to dispositions of land held by or in trust for a charity or class of charities, or (b) that the subsection does not apply to a particular disposition of land held for a charity.

  2. To what extent do the practices of charitable organisations comply with charity laws and ...

    Charity Commission's (2004) analysis confirms this claim where 81% of charities are able to explain their objectives clearly, 76% described their aims and missions while about 66% and 35% detailed their reserves and investment policies respectively in their Annual Reports.

  1. Organise an activity that will benefit both the local and wider community and raise ...

    (See appendix for photos) Evaluation During the activity I felt that my organisation and preparation paid off as the end result was as planned. Despite this there were improvements that could have been made to make the activity more of a success than it already was.

  2. Religion and Society coursework

    Islam disallows surrogacy because a child conceived by the surrogate mother, legally belongs to her and not the yearning couple. In addition, all Muslims believe that if a woman becomes infertile with another man's sperm; she is initially committing adultery.

  1. Poverty in Turkey

    The educational system, as inclusive, does not give adequate admittance for the poorest. The communal fortification system in Turkey is one of the residential in the district, at the similar time enduring to require further developments (Bradley, 2001). Though, objective of high growth and more equitable income distribution are compatible for Turkey.

  2. Religion and materialism

    This is saying to not be jealous of anyone or anything. Appreciate what you've got and what life has to give, and what you can give in return.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work