American Literature to 1865

In Young Goodman Brown and Bartleby, the Scrivener the protagonists live in a state of bliss or ignorance before coming to terms with reality. In Bartleby, the Scrivener the protagonist has no idea how the modern business life is affecting him. The narrator’s self characterization is symbolic of how the modern man adapts himself to the business world. The financial security is all that matters to him. It makes him emotionally vapid. The office is another symbol to state this emptiness. The office is very depressing:
"Wall-street. At one end they looked upon the white wall of the interior of a spacious sky-light shaft, penetrating the building from top to bottom my windows commanded an unobstructed view of a lofty brick wall, black by age and everlasting shade." (Herman Melville)
This modern life makes it unable for a man to connect with other human beings. However the narrator does not realize this until bartleby comes to his office. Bartleby acts as the narrator’s double in the story. To make this evident b is described in ghostly terms. This ghost is actually the narrator’s phantom double. He looks ghostlike and dead, shows no human passion and works constantly. This underlines the narrator’s emotional vapiditiy. But unlike the narrator who adapts himself to the business world. Bartleby is exhausted. His famous statement "I would prefer not to" is not an act of defiance. Rather it symbolizes his exhaustion.
Similarly in You
Similarly in Young Goodman Brown, Goodman and Faith symbolize a life of purity and innocence. It states their faith in the world. The names of the characters are very symbolic. Goodman’s marriage to Faith symbolizes that he clings to the faith in goodness. When he tells his companion in the woods that "Faith kept me back" he symbolizes his unwillingness to delve into the evil ways of the world. It shows that his conscious is still holding him back from embracing the evil ways. However he does go into the forest which symbolizes his urge to confront reality. But he has no idea what he would find in the forest.
Once the protagonists face the reality they undergo a change. In Bartleby, the Scrivener the narrator slowly begins to realize the parallels between their lives: "Before, I had never experienced aught but a not unpleasing sadness. The bond of a common humanity now drew me irresistibly to gloom. A fraternal melancholy! For both I and Bartleby were sons of Adam". Bartleby’s plight draws the narrator into depths of feeling that he did not know he was capable of. Part of Bartleby’s power over the narrator is that he somehow sees Bartleby as a part of himself. The narrator, at different times, wants to help Bartleby.As a result he feels pity for Bartleby.
Similarly in Young Goodman Brown, the protagonists’ journey through the woods becomes a symbol of his journey into the unconscious. The darkness and evil symbolize the evils lurking in the forest. The forest is a very real symbol of the test of strength, courage, and endurance. it took courage to survive in the forest, and a young person entering this forest would not emerge the same.
"It was all as lonely as could be. and there

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