In “Bartleby the Scrivener,” Herman Melville illustrates the life of a loner, who seemed to have lost his nuts and bolts because of extreme seclusion. Bartleby started out as a productive employee, but changed all of a sudden to an inactive one. Ambrose Bierce’s “An…
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They share the same mental isolation due to their limited social relationships and fragile, chaotic environments.
Bartleby and Peyton share an identical sense of mental isolation because of their limited social relationships. Melville shows that self-reliance means total social isolation. Bartleby works inside a cramped room, with only walls and papers to view on. One can only imagine the lonely life of a scrivener, whose work consists of endless copies and with no actual human relationships formed or strengthened in the process. As a result, the repetitive work must have killed Bartleby’s spirit. Soon, the loneliness deactivates his mind until all he can say is that he would rather not to. For me, the meaning of this phrase, “I would prefer not to,” is that he resists connecting with other people as the reaction to the world that no longer has meaning for him. The world rejected him; he rejects it back. Essentially, Bartleby’s humanity is reduced to nothingness. Peyton also has a limited social world. Despite coming from a rich family, it seems that “circumstances of an imperious nature” could refer to different social conditions that lead to him being more detached from the social world than usual (Bierce). Because of this detachment, it is easy for Peyton to give way to delusions, especially the delusion of escaping his captors. For me, it is particularly bitter to read a story of escape, and to later realize that it is only imagined by a less courageous man. The main impact of a mental isolation for Peyton is too much dreaming and too little action; hence, it leads to his demise.
Melville and Peyton also show that the fragility and turmoil of their environments has a direct influence on people’s mental states. Bartleby is a scrivener for a lawyer involved in bonds and mortgages, or in short, the affairs of the wealthy. He works at Wall Street and to some extent; his life should be
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