Conformity vs. Rebellion (Bartleby the Scrivener)

Topics: Life, Death, Afterlife Pages: 2 (718 words) Published: May 16, 2004
Conformity and rebellion are evil twins that humanity has been nourishing since the beginning of civilization. As we conform to the social norms that surround us everyday, we are trapped inside of this overwhelming system where we easily lose ourselves as individuals. On the other hand, the urges of rebellion that live in our ego compel us to break from the state of our bondages. Yet, our superegos are trying to keep us in a reasonable threshold, and enable us to stay in the system. As a result, people are fighting a constant internal battle of conformity versus rebellion. As Herman Melville describes in his story "Bartleby the Scrivener," humanity is hopelessly struggling between conformity and rebellion. He presents us with images of entrapment and death to address his concerns for the issues of conformity and rebellion.

The images of entrapment are evident throughout the story. From the "lofty brick wall" outside of the office window to the sound-dividing prison walls which Bartleby died within, the narrator traps the readers in his dark replica of reality. Looking out the office windows, "the light came down from far above, between two lofty buildings, as from a very small opening in a dome." The physical confinement of their dark and depressed office space is apparent through the images of the dim lighting and restricted view. For Bartleby, the confinement is no longer physical but psychological. "From his long-continued motionlessness, that behind his screen he must be standing in one of those dead-wall reveries of his." This unusual behavior is a common act of such character. It is not the act of boredom but desperation and hopelessness that disintegrates from within and disables him from engaging in any productive activates. As the narrator takes the readers to the final resting place of Bartleby, he portrays the ultimate human confinement, the prison. The extreme thickness of the prison walls "kept off all sound behind them." The images of entrapment...
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