Thematic Exploration in the Commercial World
In the modern world, diseases are no longer the only risk factors to human well-being. Over the recent past, there has been a decrease in human connections. Technology has been at the forefront of such implications. However, a big portion of the blame rests on human behavior. Technology might reduce face-to-face interaction, but it is upon individuals to ensure human connections prevail. Dehumanization is becoming a norm in the contemporary world, and this shift in society has become the curse of human existence. While some may argue the world is becoming overly sensitive, there is a high level of negligence to other people’s ideas from another perspective. Mental health discussions have become the order of the day after a high rate of suicides in different parts of the world. “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” and The Zoo Story are two pieces of literature painting a perfect picture of the effects of social disparity, loneliness, and isolation in a world that embraces dehumanization.
The Zoo Story is a replica of modern society; Jerry represents individuals who are open to conversation, and Peter represents people who prefer lonely time alone. It is in Central Park that the two people cross paths. As per Jerry’s talk, he was from the zoo when he saw Peter sitting on a bench and enjoying reading his book. Jerry was longing to find someone he could strike a conversation with, and seeing Peter on the bench was an opportunity for him to utilize (Li, np). His approach was through bombarding Peter with questions. Albee presents Jerry as a person who uses unconventional means to establish a meaningful conversation with his kind. It did not matter to Jerry that Peter was a stranger since he thought that getting to know someone was the key to an intimate conversation. Peter, a representation of modern society, found Jerry’s means of connections against the social norms in the community. For Peter, he was comfortable fostering social isolation by enjoying his book before Jerry’s interruption.
The author creates an association between Jerry and animals in the play in several instances, believing he can solve social isolation with animals. When Jerry and Peter meet, he is coming from the Central Park Zoo. Jerry goes even further to narrate to Peter about his relationship with his landlady and her dog. DON’T CONFUSE THE CHARACTERS. According to Jerry’s story, the dog tended to attack him every time he was returning home. The dog had much hatred for Jerry, and he took it as a challenge to change this interaction. Loneliness and social isolation has led Jerry to seek love from animals. Unfortunately, despite showering the landlady’s dog with care, the dog’s attack on Jerry did not end. Failing to connect with the landlady’s dog is an indication that the form of connection Jerry sought, only humans could provide. When Jerry fails to connect with the landlady’s dog, he opts to poison the beast. Jerry did not take the failure of connection with the lightness it deserved. However, the dog survived Jerry’s atrocious act, and its hatred for Jerry remained intact. TOO MUCH PLOT SUMMARY.
The society that the author presents is dehumanizing to characters like Jerry, who find it difficult blending in, thus resorting to self-injury. When Jerry throws questions at Peter to get an idea about his life, the latter appears polite in answering the questions. Despite the story representing the lifestyle of the 1950s, the time it was also written, it resonates massively with the modern world (ZHAO and Xin 9). Peter is an urban resident working in the field of publishing. He leads an average life, having a closely-knit family being of middle-class social status. Jerry, on the other hand, does not ascribe to Peter’s way of living. According to Jerry, Peter was forcing order in a world full of chaos. Peter loses his politeness after Jerry continues to provoke him. Although humans and animals are different in many things, they do share some similarities in behavior. When Jerry and Peter’s argument escalates, the former threatens the latter with a knife (Lamprou 77). In the process, Jerry hurts himself, and Peter participates in the accident unwillingly. In the same manner that Jerry wanted to kill the dog after failing to win its liking, he tried to hurt Peter. Despite his approach to matters being unconventional, Jerry illustrated social disparity.
In the city, Jerry felt lonely, that finding someone he could connect with at an individual level became his obsession. Peter, a quintessential example of urban residents, promoted the theme of urban alienation. It was in the act of being polite that he chose to answer Jerry’s questions. In the urban areas, only a handful of people, such as Jerry, value the spirit of togetherness and community. It was overwhelming for Jerry to find intimacy in an area that everyone minds his/her own business. Upon realizing that his life has been full of isolation, Jerry seeks any means possible to escape from this reality. He found it difficult to start a family like Peter and only managed few short-time relationships with women. Failure in communications between Jerry and Peter became the source of their conflict in their perception of life and achievement of intimacy (SHEN, and Zhi-kang np). It is no surprise that Jerry finally sees hurting others or himself as the cure to the dysfunctional society.
Similar thematic topics of dehumanization, loneliness, and isolation are evident in Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville. In the story, the narrator is the lawyer who commences by talking about his line of work and people that work under his authority. Law-copyists, also known as scriveners, work for him. There is Nippers, Turkey, and Ginger Nut, who is an errand boy in the office. Nippers and Turkey were productive at different times of the day; the former displaying maximum productivity in the afternoon while the latter in the morning (Astuti np). The point of focus of the story is the new employee, Bartleby. The Lawyer ends up hiring him after an interview. At first, Bartleby did not oddly strike the lawyer; he showed commitment to his work. However, things at the office take a different turn quickly when the lawyer asks Bartleby to join him in rectifying some of the errors he had made on a document. The phrase “would prefer not to,” becomes his primary response to most orders issued by the lawyer. Bartleby had a strange and rigid approach to work. He was a man of few words, dull and self-excluding himself from any form of connection within the office. No one knew about him, and he was not willing to provide such information. TOO MUCH PLOT SUMMARY.
Disconnection does not only occur through Bartleby but also via Nippers and Turkey. The two might have been working in the same office, but their productivity at different timings creates the notion of social disparity. The Wall Street law office was an essential workplace in American society back in the time. The lawyer was accommodating to the disconnection among his employees and only kept each for personal reasons. Although Bartleby and the lawyer do share an office, disconnection between the two is apparent. The lawyer tries his best to learn about Bartleby but fails. The only time that the lawyer finds information about Bartleby is after his demise.
Bartleby had set himself apart from the rest of the world, whether working at the office or being in prison. The narrator does not provide enough evidence to show that Bartleby found his solitude comforting. The lawyer made several attempts to reach out to Bartleby, but none enabled him to learn a thing or two about the new odd employee. Communication failure makes the relationship between Bartleby and the lawyer to be on the verge of collapse. Bartleby kept repeating his common phrases except when answering the door, asked to reasonable, and while in prison. It was only a matter of time before the lawyer decided Bartleby’s presence in the office was costing the whole Wall Street office profits and clients.
Dehumanization takes foot when Bartleby is taken to prison due to his haunting behavior in the building the lawyer had vacated. Bartleby was never violent but only used “I would prefer not to,” as his common phrase. His odd behavior had led to his loss of the job and ending in prison, a punishment that he did not deserve. He felt lonely while working at the office, and it is the same after his reprimanding. He would stare at the walls for long in the office; the same thing happens when he is in prison. The theme of social disparity is clear through observing the different workers that the lawyer had working for him. Turkey is much older than other employers at the office. Nippers who have an issue with digestion give the office a sense of fashion. Finally, there is Ginger Nut, who is twelve years old, helping as an errand boy. Similar to The Zoo Story, Bartley ends up dying due to refusal of food while in prison.
To conclude, it is accurate to state that Bartleby, the Scrivener, and The Zoo Story provide a glimpse of what loneliness is, how dehumanizing society is becoming, and the effects of isolation concerning suicidal thoughts. Both stories have a tragic ending, and the protagonist fails to fit in the contemporary world. Life for Bartleby and Jerry is meaningless and that is why one tries to form intimate conversation and fails while the other sees the move as unnecessary.
NEED SOME CRITICAL ANALYSIS TO BACK UP WHAT YOU SAY HERE.
Albee, Edward. The Zoo Story. Publisher, year.
Astuti, Ni Kadek Ayu Widasari. “Character Analysis of Bartleby in Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville.” Humanis (2013).
Lamprou, Maria. “Aggression and narrative in Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story.” Translation and Translanguaging in Multilingual Contexts 6.1 (2020): 64-78.
Li, H. U. A. “Reality in Absurdity Affirmative in Desperation——On Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story.” Journal of Suzhou College of Education 1 (2008).
Melville, Herman. “Bartleby, the Scrivener, a Story of Wall Street.” Publisher, Year.
SHEN, Yuan, and Zhi-kang SHI. “The Plight of Communication—On Albee’s The Zoo Story.” Journal of Tianjin Foreign Studies University (2012). NO ALL CAPS.
ZHAO, Li, and Xin CHEN. “The Thematical Analysis of the Images in The Zoo Story.” Journal of Heilongjiang College of Education (2012): 09.
NO ALL CAPS.
DID YOU USE ALL THESE IN-TEXT? I DON’T SEE ANY IN-TEXT CITATIONS.
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