(with a sentence explaining each)
Bartleby the Scrivener is an 1853 short story by Herman Melville It tells the story of a scrivener named Bartleby who, employed in a Wall Street law office, initially works diligently but then begins to respond to requests with a passive and negative “I would prefer not to”. The story examines the crisis of faith, alienation, and the idea of free will. Bartleby is seen as a parable of individual autonomy and determinism in a world increasingly determined by bureaucracy.
Essay topics related to Bartleby the Scrivener can explore themes of individual autonomy and determinism, alienation, free will, crisis of faith, and bureaucracy. Here are five of the best essay topics related to Bartleby the Scrivener:
1. Analyze the theme of alienation expressed in Bartleby the Scrivener. This topic would explore how Melville portrays the character of Bartleby as alienated from the world around him, leading to his passive refusal of requests.
2. Examine the concept of individual autonomy and determinism in Bartleby the Scrivener. This essay topic would look at how Melville offers a unique perspective on where individual autonomy and determinism combine.
3. Consider whether Bartleby’s passive refusal demonstrates a crisis of faith in Bartleby the Scrivener. This essay would explore whether Bartleby’s refusal of requests is in fact a reflection of his lack of faith in the world around him.
4. Explore the symbolic meaning of Bartleby’s Jail in Bartleby the Scrivener. This essay topic would delve into what the metaphor of a jail in the story could represent or symbolize.
5. Examine the idea of free will in Bartleby the Scrivener. This essay would look at how Melville presents the idea of free will through Bartleby’s stubborn resistance of authority and request to do something he does not want to do.