Symbolism Essay

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Symbolism Authors use symbolism in their stories to communicate a deeper meaning to what they write. They use symbols to make the reader think and for something to relate to. They can use objects and people as symbols to help contribute to the theme or plot of a story. Guy de Maupassant’s The String and Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener both contain symbols that help contribute a deeper meaning that somehow enhances the story. In Bartleby the Scrivener the most dominate symbol is the walls. Walls are mentioned numerous times in the story. The main purpose of the walls is to symbolize the walls people put up around themselves and seclusion from society. The blank walls, the privacy screens, and the brick walls are types of walls that are used throughout the short story. Melville uses the walls to show the obstacles that Bartleby has in his life. In the story his personality slowly deteriorates and he becomes lost. One of themes of Bartleby the Scrivener is isolation and the failure to connect. The symbolism of the walls definitely reinforces this theme. Another symbol in Bartleby is the dead letters. These letters are letters that do not get sent to the people that they are intended for either because they died or have vanished. The letters could symbolize the difficulty that people have at reaching out to other people. Bartleby is negatively affected by these letters. The narrator wonders just how much these letters affected his mind. Bartleby is not good at talking to people and by the end of the story he is like a shell of a man who has reached insanity. At the end of the short story, the narrator mentions the dead letters, he says; “Dead letters! Does it not sound like a dead man…? (Melville, 274) The dead letters are a negative symbol that shows that there is no hope for humanity or for Bartleby. There is also on theory that the dead letters

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