Critical Statements: "Bartleby" From Moby Dick ("The Monkey-Rope")

So, then, an elongated Siamese ligature united us. Queequeg was my [Ishmael] own inseparable twin brother; nor could I any way get rid of the dangerous liabilities which the hempen bond entailed. So strongly and metaphysically did I conceive of my situation then, that while earnestly watching his motions, I seemed distinctly to perceive that my own individuality was now merged in a joint stock company of two: that my free will had received a mortal wound [. . .] .

From Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Ethan Brand"

"A sin that grew nowhere else! The sin of an intellect that triumphed over the sense of brotherhood with man and reverence for God, and sacrificed everything to its own mighty claims!" . . . He [Ethan Brand] had lost his hold of the magnetic chain of humanity.

From Melville's "Hawthorne and his Mosses"

For spite of all the Indian-summer sunlight on the hither side of Hawthorne's soul, the other side--like the dark half of the physical sphere--is shrouded in a blackness, ten times black. . . . Certainly it is, however, that this great power of blackness in him derives its force from its appeals to that Calvanistic sense of Innate Depravity and Original Sin, from whose visitations, in some shape or other, no deeply thinking mind is always and wholly free.

Bartleby Notes

**Courts of Chancery:  Had jurisdiction in equity, rather than in common law--they dealt with matters of fairness and natural justice rather than with matters prescribed by law.  (Consider the narrator's treatment of Bartleby as a Master in Chancery.
**Scrivener: copies legal documents by hand
**Conveyancer: someone who draws up deeds for transferring title to property
**Title Hunter: Someone who checks records to be sure there are no encumbrances on the title of property to be transferred.
**John Jacob Astor: merchant and financier
**Tombs: the old prison in New York
**Spitzenbergs: type of apple
**Marcus Cicero: Roman writer and orator, a model for lawyers
**Gaius Marius: Roman general
**Petra: deserted ruin near the Dead Sea, walled in by towering rocks
**John C. Colt: killed Samuel Adams in 1841 with an unpremeditated blow to the head
**Freedom of the Will: Calvinist Jonathan Edwards argued that the doctrine of free will is false
Joseph Priestley: English chemist who discovered oxygen and wrote about theological subjects/questioned free will

Review of Themes (Think about these connections using your notes/our class discussions.)

**Critique of capitalism (reform vs "revolution")/nature of work/nineteenth-century American society (business interests/labor movement). Related to these: relationship of individual (free will) to society (see Moby Dick quotation above)? Concept of charity: love directed toward God but also toward oneself and one's neighbor following God's love.

**Surfaces:  What we know and what we don't/can't know.  Seeing--Does the lawyer-narrator "see"? Self-deception?  In what ways does the society depicted/implied in the story (society of surfaces?) prevent him (us) from seeing?
        --lawyer-narrator and Bartleby as doubles (both withdraw from society)?
        --lawyer-narrator and us (readers) as doubles (storytelling--how we read and interpret)?

**Power of blackness (see review of Hawthorne and his Mosses above darkness that characterizes the universe and human nature/absurdity of the human condition that cannot be fully explained. 

Ending of the story: What does the lawyer-narrator mean when he says, "humanity"?