Compare and contrast The Great Gatsby to Bartleby the Scrivener Essay

Bartleby the Scrivener is a short story inscribed by Herman Melville. In this short story, an elderly lawyer hires Bartleby to work in his business, which deals with“bonds, mortgages and title deed” (Melville 3). The elder lawyer employs Bartleby to proofread the office work, but Bartleby ends up refusing to conduct the assigned responsibilities. With time, the elder lawyer fires Bartleby, but he refuses to leave his premises. Throughout the story, Bartleby encounters physical and psychological problems that later culminate in death (Melville 7). Secondly, the Great Gatsby is a novel written in 1925 by Scott Fitzgerald, which represents an American classic work. The novel is about a man, who leads his entire life around a desire for love. He has the desire of reuniting with Daisy Buchannan who is his love, therefore, this makes him transform from poverty to wealth in order to win the love of his life. Eventually, after gaining the desire of his life, Jay Gatsby dies (Fitzgerald 9). It is apparent that both narrators use symbols, narration, and metaphors; furthermore, both stories have passionate characters and indicate the classic nature of America. In addition, the stories contrast such that, Bartleby the Scrivener is about a Wall Street lawyer while the Great Gatsby centers on love issues between Gatsby and a woman.

Comparison between the Great Gatsby and Bartleby the Scrivener

Both Great Gatsby and Bartleby the Scrivener have different symbols that portray different things. For example, in the Great Gatsby, the green light is a piece of symbolism applied throughout the book, whereby light is an indication of Gatsby’s desire for Daisy. Therefore, the green light indicates how Gatsby has spent most part of his life waiting for better things that are money, success, and Daisy’s love (Fitzgerald 34). Therefore, the novel’s author uses the green light as a symbol to show Gatsby’s longings and wants. Nevertheless, during the culmination of the novel, Nick says, “the green light eluded us then, but that’s no matter tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out arms farther” (Fitzgerald 147). Therefore, by this statement, Nick was trying to connect the green light to every individual in the society because he believed that in life, everyone has something that he is searching for desperately. Therefore, Nick calls it the green light because he believes that it results in positive changes within individuals’ life.  Similarly, Melvin in the novel Bartleby the Scrivener uses varying symbols to explain dissimilar things. For example, towards the conclusion of the novel, the author says that Bartleby used to work in the dead-letter office. This information shocks the lawyer, whereby we see him saying “Dead letters! Does that sound like dead men?” (Melville 78). Therefore, the lawyer believes that the dead letters that Bartleby used to read are the main cause of his depressions that resulted in apathy and emotional detachment. Consequently, this novel used the dead letter to symbolize bad things in life (Melville 56).

Both Great Gatsby by Scot Fitzgerald and The Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville are stories, which take place during the 19th century in New York City. The stories consist of dissimilar characters such as Turkey, Nippers, and Nick who play varying roles. The stories have varying themes, for example, Melville uses dissimilar themes such as charity, work ethics, and ruling among others in his piece of work (Melville 32). Similar to the Great Gatsby whereby Fitzgerald uses themes such as class, wealth, social standing among others to bring out dissimilar situations (Fitzgerald 17). In both stories, the authors use symbols to explain different meanings, which highly contribute towards the formation of the main themes in the stories.

In both stories, the narrators apply the aspect of narration and metaphors. For example, in Bartleby the Scrivener, Melville examines complexities that exist among every character through narration. The same incidence happens in the Great Gatsby when Gatsby was talking about dissimilar characters with their roles. Melville also uses different metaphors in his narration such that the title “Bartleby the Scrivener” is a metaphor, which shows the many problems that human beings encounter while trying to communicate in society. The narrator equally shows the relationships that exist among different people by using the experience shown between the narrator and Bartleby. In addition, Melville also uses the term wall as a metaphor to mean the status of business around the globe (Melville 87).  Similarly, Fitzgerald uses the same style in his work, whereby in his entire work; he used the term green light to show the bright future that most people always long for.

Both stories try to show the classic nature of America and their wonderful work. In the Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses neat prose to present his piece of work. The author also creates a good piece of work that shows how the author had adequate information concerning people leading bad life dominated by greedy and unfulfilled promises. The novel describes the modern world by using a character called Gatsby, who appears to be desperate for love (Fitzgerald 13). Similarly, in Bartleby the Scrivener, Melvin illustrates the changes happening in the current society. In this short story, Bartleby is within a group of working men, hence society considers him as a useless piece of the giant because he lacked an important role to play in modern society, which means that he is valueless. 

When making character analysis, it is evidence that the main characters from both stories, that is, Bartleby and Gatsby go through serious social and psychological problems. For example, in Bartleby the Scrivener by Melville, Bartleby goes through many problems, which makes his employer try out assisting him but this does not work because Bartleby is not able to continue with his daily responsibilities. Although Bartleby is a flawed character in the story, it turns out that there is something convincing about his nostalgia. In addition, the modernity experienced in the story affects Bartleby’s career by taking him to see that working, as a draft man to the lawyer is an outdated job. The working condition in the lawyer’s office also contributes to the issues affecting Bartleby. For example, the story describes the lawyer’s office to be bleak and its landscape is completely unnatural. The environment is very sterile and cheerless making it hard for Bartleby to adapt (Melville 76). Similarly, in the Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald, it happens that Gatsby comes from a poor humble family, who throughout the story is in love with Daisy Fay. Gatsby goes through psychological torture after Tom Buchanan a wealthy man marries his girlfriend. Later on, Gatsby becomes rich and wins Daisy back, thereafter; a grieved husband imagined that Gatsby was a culprit hence shooting him while lounging in his pool.

Finally, in both stories, the main characters desire to achieve something. For example, in Bartleby the Scrivener, the lawyer desired to acquire more money that is why he practiced snug business among the bonds and mortgages owned by rich people (Melville 23). Similarly, Gatsby in the novel Great Gatsby had a desire of getting his life’s love, which transformed him from poverty to being rich. Both stories ended after the main character’s death (Fitzgerald 43).

The contrast between the Great Gatsby and Bartleby the Scrivener.

The Great Gatsby is a novel written during the 1920s, which is about the decline in America’s dream. This novel illustrates the love dissatisfaction between a woman and a man. The author explains that this novel took place during a time of decayed social and moral values (Fitzgerald 11). On contrary, “Bartleby the Scrivener” is a short narration written by Herman Melvin about a Wall Street lawyer, whose work is to investment opportunities for rich clients. In this short story, the lawyer hires Bartleby to work for him, but he gradually declines his responsibilities after a short while. Bartleby ends up leading this life until his death (Melville 14).

Finally, the Great Gatsby took place at a period when America was going through cultural and lifestyle changes. These changes were affecting the economic market, stock markets, which made many people spend a lot of money hosting dissimilar parties as witnessed in the story. The rich people bought expensive commodities, whereby possessions of automobiles were signs of wealth. At this period, people obtained great profits from their business by using legal and illegal methods (Fitzgerald 67). In addition, this novel focuses on different cultural elements that existed during the 1920s, which resulted in the downfall of America’s dream. During this period, Americans believed that everyone could excel in life as long as he works hard despite his social status. The story also talks about the culture of wealthy Americans who possessed excessive material wealth. This is seen in the flamboyant lifestyle that Gatsby leads, the cars that he drives; he lives in a big mansion and holds many lavish parties (Melville 35). The story happened during a period when most Americans were acquiring a lot of wealth, which resulted in a lot of leisure and idleness that replaced hard work that existed traditionally. On contrary, Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville took place at a period when people were criticizing a materialistic culture that existed in America. 

Works Cited

  1. Fitzgerald, Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York, NY: Interactive Media, 2012. Print
  2. Lamb, Robert. Art Matters: Hemingway, Craft, and the Creation of the Modern Short Story. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010. Print.
  3. Melville, Herman. Bartleby the Scrivener. London: Plain Label Books, 2012. Print