Analysis of “The Raven” and “Bartleby, the Scrivener”
In the texts, the speaker and the narrator are seen to interact with other characters whose responses are the same despite the change of the context or the topic of what is being said. In “The Raven,” Poe, who is the speaker, motivates the other character (Raven) in various ways. First, the speaker welcomes the Raven and asks it to tell him its name, and the response to the speaker’s question or request is “Nevermore.” The fact that the speaker asks the raven to tell him its name is a way of engaging and motivating the raven. Second, the speaker, Poe, pulls a chair and sits directly in front of the raven, with the determination to learn more about it. In the text, the speaker thinks for a moment in silence while sitting in front of the Raven, but is unfortunate to have his mind wander back to his lost Lenore. Without a doubt, the fact that the speaker sits in front of the raven is considered a motivation for it. Despite receiving the same response from the raven, the speaker asks the raven about Lenore’s whereabouts and whether the two would be reunited in heaven. The engagement and questions directed to the raven by the speaker can be seen as a way through which it was motivated. The raven’s same response to every question asked triggers adverse reactions from the speaker, which do not result in a significant consequence. In the text, it is noted that as a result of a ‘nevermore’ response from the raven, the speaker becomes angry and calls it names such as “a thing of evil” and “a prophet.” The raven’s failure to change its response prompts the speaker to call it a liar and commands it to return to where it originated. Despite the speaker’s reactions, it can be noted that the raven is not moved and continues to sit on the bust of Pallas.
Conversely, in the “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” the narrator is seen to motivate Bartleby, who is the other character in various ways. Bartleby’s first “I would prefer not to” response sees the narrator make several attempts to reason with Bartleby and to learn something about him. These efforts are seen to motivate Bartleby although they do not help stop his annoying response. Besides, after leaving Bartleby in the office, the narrator returns to find that he has been forcibly removed and imprisoned in the Tombs and decides to visit him. The fact that the narrator returns to see how Bartleby is faring and that he decides to visit him in the Tombs can be considered ways through which the narrator motivates Bartleby. Moreover, during his visit to the Tombs, the narrator finds that Bartleby is glummer than usual, and decides to bribe a turnkey, who would make sure that Bartleby gets enough food for his survival. Despite being a way of motivating Bartleby, the narrator’s efforts do not bear fruits as Bartleby’s “I would prefer not to” response remains, and leads to his death later on. The narrator motivates Bartleby by giving him more time to recover from eye strain upon his refusal to work on documents given to him.
As the case of “The Raven,” Bartleby’s same response to every question and different situations triggers various reactions from the narrator. The difference is that the raven’s response triggers negative reactions from the speaker whereas Bartleby’s response triggers both positive and negative reactions from the speaker. In the “The Bartleby, the Scrivener” text, in the beginning, when Bartleby “prefers not to” complete a document given by the narrator, the latter opts to reassign the document to another employee. However, his reaction, as the case of speaker’s reaction in “The Raven” does not change or influence Bartleby to change his “I would prefer not to” response. Upon Bartleby’s refusal to leave the office after being fired, the narrator reacts by moving into another office, thereby leaving Bartleby behind. The consequence of this reaction is that Bartleby is arrested for vagrancy, and he is taken to the tombs. The narrator later visits him and directs that food should be given to him, but still, this does not help change Bartleby’s “I would prefer not to” response that results in his death eventually.
The two texts give suggestions about the nature of language, communication, and sympathy. “The Raven” suggests that the nature of the language used by people during communication can either result in agreement or conflict among them. Put simply, language that is clear and positive often results in an agreement between two persons involved in a communication process. On the contrary, language that is negative and cannot be interpreted easily results in conflict between two people taking part in a communication process. In “The Raven,” the bird’s same response is not understood or interpreted by the speaker, and this, results in a conflict between them. In fact, the speaker abuses and insults the raven commanding it to return to its place of origin. The influence of the nature of language on the communication process is also evident in the “Bartleby, the Scrivener” text. The language used by Bartleby cannot be understood by his employer and his colleagues. The nature of the language used by Bartleby at the workplace results in conflict between him and his employer as well as other employees at the law office. The fact that Bartleby’s language could not be understood or interpreted by those was the primary cause of his death.
Moreover, the texts give a suggestion of the importance of communication among people in society. Without effective communication, coexistence or cooperation of people could be jeopardized as seen in the two texts. In “The Raven,” the communication between the raven and the speaker is ineffective, and this is because the latter does not comprehend the former’s intended message. As a result, the coexistence or cooperation between them is compromised, prompting the speaker to command the raven to return to its place of origin. The need for effective communication is also highlighted in “Bartleby, the Scrivener” where the cooperation between Bartleby and his employer is jeopardized by the latter’s inability to comprehend the former’s message in the response “I would prefer not to.” At some point, the narrator decided to give Bartleby time to recover from an eye strain although this was not a problem faced by Bartleby. The latter’s refusal and inability to communicate effectively prompted the narrator to shift to a new office, leaving Bartleby in problems with other tenants. The texts’ suggestion about sympathy cannot be ignored. “Bartleby, the Scrivener” text postulates that sympathy helps enhance the relationship between two individuals. The narrator’s sympathy prompted him to order a turnkey to make sure that Bartleby got enough food despite the weak relationship that existed between them.
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