Bartleby the Scrivener

Machine Over Mind College

The abstract notion of fulfillment is one that creates a never ending search. The issue that prevails is that it is intangible and therefore cannot be classified with the least bit of certainty. Society on the other hand, is run by the rule of mathematics, sciences and absolute answers. The intangibles are too philosophical and there are too many variables to account for, so in place of that the economic machine was created. American culture is driven by money, dependent upon success, and engulfed by tangible goods by which individuals can express their wealth to the rest of the world. Herman Melville explores this notion in “Bartleby, the Scrivener” as he criticizes the belief that financial success or an esteemed social status are synonymous with fulfillment. Melville uses the array of different characters to expose the internal struggles of society as it rages against the inner workings of the economic machine.

The pressure to succeed and thrive in today’s world is one that can be overbearing for even the strongest of souls. Nippers, one of the clerks employed by the narrator, is a young man who is said to be the “victim of two evil powers – ambition and indigestion” (7). He constantly feels the urge to rise in the ranks of...

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