Nothing so aggravates an earnest person as a passive resistance," concludes the lawyer in Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" (Arp and Johnson 589). This statement rings true, as any reader of the enigmatic short story will find himself or herself equally aggravated by the strange characteristics of Bartleby, the extra copyist. Herman Melville has baffled literary critics for decades with this short story; countless different theories have been suggested to explain his purpose for such an ambiguous character. These theories even include a variegated list of other authors on which Melville based the inscrutable character, including Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne (McCall 14). However, none of these theories are as easily argued as one theory in particular. The characteristics of Bartleby make him a literary Christ-figure.
Key Words- Jesus, prophet Isaiah , Son of God
[...] This passive resistance could be called mildness, a characteristic often associated with Jesus, and the word is also used often by Melville in the description of Bartleby's actions. For example, Melville writes, prefer not to,' he respectfully and slowly said, and mildly disappeared” [emphasis added] (Arp and Johnson 591). In the context of the sentence, Melville uses in a strange way. In other words, it is somewhat difficult to imagine a disappearance. The lawyer finds himself unsure of how to react to this “mild but unmovable wall” (Friedman 66). [...]
[...] Works Cited Arp, Thomas R. and Greg Johnson. "Bartleby the Scrivener." Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense. Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth Dew, Marjorie. Attorney and the Scrivener: Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore'.” A Symposium: Bartleby the Scrivener. Ed. Howard P. Vincent. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press 94-103. Franklin, H. Bruce. “Worldly Safety and Other-worldly Saviors.” Wake of the Gods: Melville Mythology. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press 126-52 Friedman, Maurice. “Bartleby and the Modern Exile.” A [...]
[...] to poverty, even though it can be argued that his offer was more of a bribe than a gift (Stein 107). The lawyer also gives him a chance to stay in the office despite his refusal to do what is requested of him, which was a considerably compassionate action from an employer to an apathetic employee. He even goes as far as to try to minister to Bartleby when he is taken to prison (Dew 102). All three of these events are clear examples which are easily compared to Jesus' command in Matthew, providing a clear path of logic to follow when considering Melville's intriguing Bartleby a Christ-figure. [...]
[...] Correspondingly, Bartleby can also be seen as a Christ-figure when the lawyer Bartleby a total of three times in the course of his story, just as Peter denied Christ in Mark 14:71 (McCall 5). really, the man you allude to is nothing to says the anonymous lawyer when questioned about Bartleby. The lawyer repeats this shameful sentiment twice more, attempting to hide his stinging conscience and distress from the men who question him. This guilty reaction is clearly reminiscent of Peter's reaction to his own denial of Jesus. [...]
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