Bartleby the Scrivener is a classic novella by Herman Melville that is widely used in university courses because of its interesting themes and themes of morality The novella deals with the struggles of an unnamed character, known as Bartleby, who has been hired as a scrivener in a Wall Street office. Initially, Bartleby appears to be a hardworking and diligent employee, but as time goes by he begins to refuse certain tasks, saying simply “I would prefer not to.” As the story progresses, the reader is presented with a story of moral ambiguity and the difficulty of judging right and wrong. The story is framed by a narrator who provides interesting insights into the nature of Bartleby and the moral questions presented in the novella.
Given the novella’s heavy moral themes, it makes for a great essay topic. Some of the best essay topics related to Bartleby the Scrivener are outlined and discussed below.
1. Exploring the Narrator and His Motivations: The narrator of Bartleby the Scrivener is an interesting and complex character who is difficult to classify. His motivations throughout the novella lie in a moral grey area, and provide for interesting exploration.
2. An Examination of Power and Obedience: The novella is set in an office, which allows for an exploration of power dynamics and the lengths people will go to in order to obey orders from their bosses.
3. Bartleby the Scrivener and Existentialism: There are many existentialist themes present in the novella that allow for further exploration. In particular, the character of Bartleby and his refusal of certain tasks hint towards an exploration of existentialist themes.
4. An Examination of Morality: As mentioned previously, morality is a major theme in Bartleby the Scrivener. The novella can be used to explore the complexity of judging right and wrong and the implications of ignoring moral laws.
5. The Impact of Capitalism: The novella is set in Wall Street, which provides an interesting backdrop to explore capitalism and the way it shapes both business and the lives of the people who work within it.
These are just a few of the many potential topics one could explore while writing an essay on Bartleby the Scrivener. It is an interesting novella with a lot of scope to debate and discuss unique moral dilemmas.