WRT 120 Syllabus
Lit 165 Syllabus
About the Instructor
Notes for Introduction to Literature
Fundamental Questions About Literature
Critical Approaches to Literature
Critical Thinking and Reading Literature
Notes on Four Short Stories
Defining the Short Story
The Genesis of the Short Story
The Art of the Short Story
Responding to 'The Birthmark'
Notes on Nathaniel Hawthorne
A Guided Reading of 'Bartleby'
'Bartleby--Questions for Analysis
A Cultural Context for 'Bartleby'
A Vocabulary for Fiction and Beyond
Notes on Innovative Fiction
Young Man on Sixth Avenue
A Study Guide for the Fiction Exam
The Craft of Poetry: Imagery
The Craft of Poetry: Sound
The Craft of Poetry: Structure
Lines of Continuity
Study Guide for the Poetry Exam
The Birth of Greek Tragedy
Stepping Through OEDIUPS THE KING
Aristotle's 'Tragic Hero'
Questions for Studying OEDIUPS
The Relevance of OEDIPUS Today
Study Guide for the Drama Exam
Notes for Effective Writing I
Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
Announcements and Assignments
WRT 120 Announcements
WRT 120 Assignments
LIT 165 Announcements
Lit 165 Assignments
Weblog for WRT 120
Weblog for LIT 165
Writing Assistance on the Web
Join an Online Forum
WRT 120 Composition Forum
LIT 165 Introduction to Literature Forum
"Bartleby the Scrivener" Questions for Analysis ~~
it's easy to tell we're in the presence of a great, rich fascinating story is
that there's potentially so much to discuss. In addition to all of the background
material I'd like to share with you, we could easily pick any of these topics
and spend quite a bit of time hashing them around, picking their fruits.
/ Antagonist? What is the Boss up against in the person of Bartleby?
Does Bartleby represent a force beyond himself as an individual?
- Major / Minor
Who are the major players in the story? What do we know about them?
Are they likable? Sympathetic? Realistic? What's the function of the story's
vivid minor characters?
- Dynamic / Static
Who changes? Who stays the same? Is the story about growth or change?
- Round / Flat
Who is the round character? Who are the flat characters?
Point of view
- Who tells the
story? We have a first person narrator, who is flawed but human ...
He's reliable, we trust him. His actions definitely support what he tells
us about himself; especially the part about being a man who likes to take
the "easy" way. What else is gained by telling this story from the
Boss's perspective? Why not Bartleby's perspective? Why not one of the other
clerks? How would the substance of the story differ if it was told from some
What background information does the narrator relate that gives us a greater
understanding of the events unfolding? Why does the information about Bartleby's
previous employment come at the end of the story rather than at the beginning?
How does the Boss react when Bartleby repeatedly refuses to perform
his duties? How does his reaction intensify? What is the Boss's dilemma?
Where do you feel the events reach their pinnacle? Where is the conflict most
intense, the clash most "explosive"?
What's the outcome of the explosion?
Who has gained insight in this story, Bartleby or the Boss, or anybody?
- Despair is a
- A person needs
dignity to survive despair.
- Human beings
cannot "control" one another without disastrous consequences.
work can kill the soul.
- Passive resistance
is a radical form of rebellion.
- Offices, where
Americans spend the greater part of their lives, are not democracies.
- Have a life
outside work! Don't expect your occupation to bear the burden of your existence.
- much more!
- The Boss doesn't
recognize that his own passiveness is as persistent and frustrating as Bartleby's.
Or that his genteel, self-interested interest in Bartleby is leading to no
The Boss' kindnesses are in some ways cruelties.
- Bartleby is
stubborn, self-absorbed, rebellious, and insubordinate, yet many readers,
and even the narrator, the Boss himself, have a deep sympathy for him. Why?
- Exactly why
does Bartleby always "prefer not to"? Why can't he make friends,
or communicate? What's at the heart of his rebellion? Why doesn't he quit
and get a different job?
- Why does the
Boss have sympathy for Bartleby?
- What do the
"dead walls" and Bartleby's "dead wall reveries" represent?
- What's the significance
of the setting? Why is it a "story of Wall Street"?
- Why do Turkey
and Nipper have nicknames, but the Boss doesn't, and we never learn Bartleby's
first name? What's in a name?