Bartleby the Scrivener vs. FAll of House of Usher: A study in romanticism

The Free essays given on our site were donated by anonymous users and should not be viewed as samples of our custom writing service. You are welcome to use them to inspire yourself for writing your own term paper. If you need a custom term paper related to the subject of Book Reports or Bartleby the Scrivener vs. FAll of House of Usher: A study in romanticism, you can hire a professional writer here in just a few clicks.
An excellent paper, recieved a 97. Sorry for the last upload.... Tris Warkentin Short Story D Essay #1, Usher vs. Bartleby 2/14/00 Men of Science and Death The similarities between the two stories The Fall of the House of Usher and Bartleby the Scrivener, written by Edgar Allan Poe and Herman Melville, respectively, are excellent examples of the effects of romanticism on each of these writers. Poe, one of the pioneers of the American form of the romantic short story, uses vivid death and structure imagery to elucidate the plight of the main character, Roderick Usher. Melville uses similar conventions in Bartleby to illustrate the condition of the story's main character, Bartleby. When considering the major similarities shared by these narratives, there are three readily apparent similarities. These resemblances are seen in; the manifest content of the plots, the author's views on nature and its effects, and each main character's madness and its causes. The manifest, or overt content of the stories is very similar. One of the most noticeable similarities is the first person point of view. Both of these stories employ an unnamed narrator recalling the death of his friend. This is very important in the telling of the story, because it biases the events detailed, in favor of the speaker. In both of these stories, the speaker is portrayed as the calm, logical character, and Usher and Bartleby are shown as the illogical madmen. Although there is truth to both men's madness, it is perhaps heightened by the reflections of the narrator. Another important similarity is the madness of the characters in and of itself. The two protagonists, Bartleby and Usher, are both insane, and have called upon the narrator of each story to attempt to calm their madness, a task that each narrator takes on cautiously, as shown by the lawyer in Bartleby: "I thought to myself, surely I must get rid of a demented man, who already has in some degree turned the tongues, if not the heads of myself and clerks." (Melville, 14) Yet another obvious similarity in the plots is the protagonist's death upon the conclusion of the story. This, of course, is important, because it rounds off the mirror similarity of the two stories. Their plots follow a synonymous structure; exposition through narrator's mind, meeting of narrator and protagonist, action period (where the narrator tries to help the protagonist from his madness), and death of protagonist. Nature is portrayed in very similar ways in these two stories. Coincidentally, this portrayal is also the one that was upheld by American Romantic writers, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne. The view of nature as a benevolent force that would guide people to the right decisions, as well as healing them, is vividly manifested in both of the stories. In Usher, Roderick's state causes him to be pained by natural phenomena, maladies that seem inherently linked with his illness: "He suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses; the most insipid food was alone endurable; he could wear only garments of certain texture; the odors of all flowers were oppressive; his eyes were tortured by even a faint light' and there were but peculiar sounds, and those from stringed instruments, which did not inspire him with horror." (Poe, 26) Similarly, Bartleby's affliction seems to be curable. Aside from his mental sickness, Bartleby's blindness might also be cured by some fresh, natural air. The narrator hints at this when he learns of Bartleby's blindness: "I was touched. I said something in condolence with him. I hinted that of course he did wisely in abstaining from writing for a while; and urged him to embrace that opportunity of taking wholesome exercise in the open air. This, however, he did not do." (Melville, 14) Both of these characters go mad at some point. In Usher, it is before the narrator arrives on the scene. However, in Bartleby it happens during the action of the story. Despite the difference in the showing of the protagonists drive to insanity, the causes of this madness, as well as their ultimate deaths, are strikingly similar. Of course, the cause of their dementia also agrees with the ideals of Romanticism. Their sin is overintellect. In Usher, the condition of the house displays this when the narrator enters it: "The general furniture was profuse, comfortless, antique, and tattered. Many books and musical instruments lay scattered about, but failed to give any vitality to the scene. I felt that I breathed an atmosphere of sorrow." (Poe, 25) It seems that Usher has wasted his days and nights away studying the intricacies of nature, striving to understand it. After his search, his only product is his own madness. The action is similar in Bartleby the Scrivener. Bartleby's blindness is symbolic of his descent into true madness. This blindness is caused by countless hours of work by his dimly lit window, scribing works of great intellect. When Bartleby's employer finds out that his employee refuses to scribe further, he proclaims: ""Why, how now? what next?" exclaimed I, "do no more writing?" "No more." "And what is the reason?" "Do you not see the reason for yourself," he indifferently replied. I looked steadfastly at him, and perceived that

Our inspirational collection of essays and research papers is available for free to our registered users

Related Essays on Book Reports

Treasure Island - As Told in 2000

Robert Louis Stevenson - T r e a s u r e I s l a n d The year is 2000 and there is illegal smuggling going on in a Los Angeles Warehouse. It has been a year since. Here is the story told ...

read more
Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817 in Concord Massachusetts. He spent most of his life in the areas or writing, teacher, essayist and orator. Thoreau attended Concord Academy ...

read more
"Life is Holy and Every Moment is Precious"

Sexual freedom pertains to many aspects of one's life. We get bombarded with sexual images, ideas and discussions every day, and our degree of sexual liberation affects how we react to these stimuli....

read more
Ragtime Book Report Script

Jess Brock American History Script Ragtime Tape Recorded Book Report March 20, 1999 Jess Brock This is Jess Brock, with Real News. I am in front of the Pierpont Morgan property in Manhattan wh...

read more
Insanity in World Literature

Sanity, what is it and why do so many plays seem to illustrate the loss of this state? The causes for insanity differ greatly from the death of a father to the end of a dream. For centuries this asp...

read more
Book report on beowulf

Nathan Petersen's Cliff Notes Author (well sort of) The Beowulf manuscript survives in one codex, the British Museum MS. Cotton Vitellius A. XV. In 1731 the codex was scorched, damaging the last two...

read more