Herman Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener" baffled readers when it was first published in 1853. It continues to confuse readers who don't always understand why Bartleby continually insists "I would prefer not to" when asked to do anything at the law office where he works. Readers have also been confused about the role of the narrator and whether he's genuinely concerned about Bartleby's fate.
What do you think about these issues? Post your thoughts by addressing one or both of the following sets of questions:
What motivates Bartleby's refusal to work or even eat by the end of the story? What do you think Melville is trying to say about office work? Do you admire or look down on Bartleby as a character? Is he rebellious or simply crazy?
Is the narrator genuinely concerned about Bartleby's well being, or is he simply trying to make himself feel better? What evidence do you have to support your claim?
After you post a response, respond to at least two classmates. Be sure to engage in real discussion for full credit.
One of the dominant themes of the Romantic movement is a close relationship with nature. Reflect on the three poems by Emily Dickinson that we read in class this week. In a well-developed paragraph using evidence from at least two of the poems, describe how Dickinson demonstrates that connection with nature.
After you have finished, please take a few moments to read others' responses, and give someone some meaningful feedback on their post.
In class, we discussed in great depth that this poem describes man's desire to build a paradise for oneself. Specifically, we talked about Coleridge's opium addiction as his attempt to create that paradise.
This is not the only interpretation of this poem. Another approach would say that Coleridge's poem asserts that ever since original sin, mankind has longed to return to Eden and the god-given paradise. Coleridge seems to say that man does this in vain, because Nature thwarts all attempts at this and paradise is forever lost.
Consider this alternate interpretation, and locate evidence that could be used to justify its acceptance. Explain how Coleridge seems to indicate man's desire to return to Eden, and also how Nature always thwarts man's attempts. (Don't forget that human nature might also be considered part of nature.)
Finally, read and respond to at least one classmate's post. Make sure your response adds something to the discussion, beyond simply agreeing with or encouraging another student.
Blake's "The Lamb" is from his book, Songs of Innocence, while "The Tyger" is from Songs of Experience. Consider these poems together, and in a well-developed paragraph, compare and contrast, addressing the following:
- What message does Blake seem to be conveying with these poems? How do these poems reflect the characteristics of Romantic poetry?
- What poetic devices (figurative language, symbolism, imagery, diction, tone, etc...) did Blake use, and how do they help convey his Romantic themes?
When you have finished, be sure to critically read a classmates post, and in a reply, point out something that you agree with as well as something that perhaps they didn't think of or you saw differently.
Your initial post is worth 10pts, and the follow up reply is worth 5pts.