The Most Fatal Illusion Is The Settled Point Of View

Decent Essays
Brooks Atkinson once reasoned that “The most fatal illusion is the settled point of view.” The first person point of view only permits one to understand one individual’s perception of the experiences that occur. Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener is written in the first person. Readers thusly experience the oddity that is Bartleby through the eyes of the nameless narrator. “Bartleby was one of those beings of whom nothing is ascertainable, except…what my own astonished eyes saw of Bartleby, that is all I know of him,” all we as readers can ascertain about Bartleby stems from what little the narrator knows of him and all he tells us about him (Melville 546). So what is really known of Bartleby? The narration of Bartleby the Scrivener sways the readers’ perception of Bartleby and their understanding of his existence. Most critics who analyze Bartleby agree that there is a universal problem regarding the mystery of Bartleby, and the ignorance that such a mystery creates within the narrator. Almost instantly readers find themselves asking the question as to why Bartleby so strange, this in itself presents a prevalent issue regarding the text that the narrator has in so few sentences has created. Thomas Mitchell argues that this response is the very problem of the reader, we jump too quickly to demonize the narrator, sympathize with Bartleby, and shift our energy to attempting to figure out the “problem” with Bartleby instead of analyzing the text for what it is (329).
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