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Revolutionary Situations In Benito Cereno And Bartleby

Most people live all their lives doing what the world tells them to do until that one shining moment comes which makes them change their mind. Human beings are apparently unique and mysterious creatures(Melville, Herman. 1853. Bartleby, the Scrivener). What we do sometimes amazes us as well. The history of humankind is full of stories that cannot be possible logically, yet they are. From the story of David versus Goliath to the story of Jesus, none seem reasonable to human logic. Often it so happens that the people make a system with rules and regulations, which are supposed to protect the people from any outside thing. However, in one instance one person comes, who changes the whole situation; revolting against the system and bringing it down, crashing. This paper discusses why people rebel against the system, and what motivates them to do so, it gives examples of two relevant literary works.

Books have been read for centuries, before the motion picture became common, in today’s society. In the olden days, educated people wrote books to express their knowledge of a particular subject. Back then, even the smallest of ideas and events were written down. Some people, however, mastered the art of telling stories(REFLECTIONS CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE | The New Yorker). They would write fiction, to enchant other people with their imaginative stories. Others, also with masters in literature, would raise some social issues. One such writer, Herman Melville, has been known to write stories that have been related to some point. Most people identified him as the author of Moby Dick, though he has written other stories as well; two of his works are referenced here.

This paper is about what pushes human beings to stand up and revolt. Well, reading Bartleby the Scrivener, it seems like the ones who revolt seem to have some mental issue; like a mood disorder. However, this might not always be the issue. In Benito Cereno, it appears that the slaves were pushed too hard. Apparently, being taken as a slave and then poorly treated might have taken its toll(Analysis of Benito Cereno”).

In both cases, it is quite clear that while working, somewhere along the line both the slaves in Benito Cereno and Bartleby snapped and they did what they might never have done, had they been thinking straight. In her work, “Civil Disobedience,” Hannah Arendt claims that civil disobedience is the modern form of revolution. It is found in the present-day setup of workplaces.

Benito Cereno was set up during the old days when slavery was common. The best way to revolt against the slave masters is to fight against them in battle. Hence, that is what the slaves did. They killed most of the officers and crew, leaving a small number alive and the captain weak. On the other hand, Bartleby is set in an office environment and involves people who are well educated, or semi-educated. Thus, fighting against the employer might mean unemployment, which is unacceptable for a middle-class man.

One thing is clear: both works include people who are unhappy with their circumstances and want to change them. They have been trying to hold back the negative feelings inside them until it builds into force; which pushes them to be disobedient towards their masters.


Analysis of Benito Cereno”. Accessed 20 Nov. 2017.

Melville, Herman. 1853. Bartleby, the Scrivener. Accessed 20 Nov. 2017.

REFLECTIONS CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE | The New Yorker. Accessed 20 Nov. 2017.



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