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An Ecocritical Reading of Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener"

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This research is an ecocritical reading of Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener." Melville's treatment of the environment is described and analyzed with regard to Augé 's theory of non-Places. The examples of non-place in Melville's Wall Street story include the compartmentalized office, the urban labyrinth, artificial and natural greeneries and oriental landscapes. The motif of compartmentalization forms the binary of insider and outsider. A close attention to the binaries in this story reveal Melville's critical attitude towards urban culture that threatens the American identity and mocks the American predilection for mobility in open spaces. This story reveals the way social institutions of an urban culture can determine the tragic fate of an out of place individual. Melville, in this story, reveals the consequences of marginalizing nature and indicates his ecological concerns in mid-nineteenth century America. He mourns the fading out of biocentric view of nature and warns against the domination of the anthropocentric worldview which is brought about by modernity, enlightenment and capitalism.


International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences (Volume 73)
L. Atashi, "An Ecocritical Reading of Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener"", International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, Vol. 73, pp. 7-16, 2016
Online since:
September 2016

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