Bartelby The Scrivener By Melville

All literary works are written from a specific standpoint. This standpoint
originates from the mind of the author. The author, when creating his literary
work, has a specific diagram/plan and vision of what the story is supposed to
convey. However, not all readers will interpret the literary work in the way
that the author him/herself has presented it. Many times, in fact, the audience
will perceive the literary work as having an entirely different meaning than
what it was meant to have. The short story, Bartelby the Scrivener by Herman

Melville, has been reviewed by several different critics as having several
different standpoints. These standpoints include Bartelby as a Psychological

Double to the Narrator, an apostle of reason, having biblical ties, and as being

Melville himself. A personal standpoint that proves to be different than those
that have come before it is to perceive the story, Bartelby the Scrivener, as a
story of family. Of all of these views and interpretations of the story Bartelby
the Scrivener, none can be perceived as correct, except by the author.

Furthermore, none can be seen as incorrect because literary works, unlike visual
works of art, leave us the option to imagine. In fact, our interpretation of
another critic’s thesis is merely a product of our views on their standpoints.

I say that only to justify that we are able to formulate our own opinions and
form our own thesis just by reading the words on the page. Bartelby as a

Psychological Double The critic of this standpoint is Mordecai Marcus. He feels
that Bartelby is a paralleled character or a "psychological double" of the
narrator. In his criticism of Bartelby the Scrivener, he writes: "I believe
that the character of Bartelby is a psychological double for the story’s
nameless lawyer-narrator, and that the story’s criticism of a sterile and
impersonal society can best be clarified by investigation of this role." -

"Bartelby appears to be the lawyer chiefly to remind him of the inadequacies,
the sterile routine, of his world." (College English, pg. 68) Marcus is trying
to say that Bartelby and the narrator have a sort of inter-connection. Not as
two separate entities, but as two separate personalities residing in one,
viewing life from separate standpoints. This view that Marcus has on Bartelby
(used as a short for the title), can easily be digested due to the descriptive
nature of the story itself. The narrator, confidently from the very introduction
of Bartelby’s character, describes his every move and demeanors as if it was
his own. He is able to successfully convey to the unidentified audience who

Bartelby is, while managing to leave room for mystery within the character. The
familiarity in the narrator’s description leads to a sort of justification of

Marcus’ theory of the narrator and Bartelby as a "Psychological Double."

However, in order to successfully justify this theory, I believe that Marcus
should have proceeded to convince his audience that the other characters,

Turkey, Nippers, and Ginger Nut, are also alter personalities of the narrator.

They too were an intricate part of the narrator’s description. Each of these
characters possessed several positive and negative qualities quite familiar to
the narrator. I feel that it is inadequate for Marcus to solely choose Bartelby
and leave out the other characters as alternate personalities. Critique of

Reason The critic, R.K. Gupta, uses "reason" to justify his standpoint on

Melville’s, Bartelby the Scrivener. Gupta writes: " The unnamed narrator of

"Bartelby, the Scrivener" is an apostle or reason. His outlook on life is
clear, unambiguous, and uncluttered by mysticism or imagination. Reason and
common sense are his deities, and he looks upon them as infallible guides to
human conduct." (IJ of AS pg66) Gupta’s position on reason, like Marcus’
theory, is easy to digest. Throughout the story, the narrator makes it his goal
to understand Bartelby. He yearns to have control over the situation merely by
using reason. The narrator introduces himself by describing himself as a man who
likes things to go easy. His references to not addressing the jury in court
convey to the audience that he feels reasoning should be enough to convince an
individual who may have doubts. The narrator spends the length of the story
trying to use reasoning as a method of understanding Bartelby; however,
reasoning proved to be ineffective. What Gupta failed to mention in his opening
statements towards reasoning is that the character, Bartelby, also had a clear
outlook on life. Bartelby was a fairly straightforward man with his repetition
of the words, "I prefer not to." Bartelby also seemed to live