pessimistic view of the limitations of philanthropism?
I'd like to hear other people's interpretations of this unusual story, which ends on what to me is a sad and rather unsettling note. The story seems to me to say that some people (i.e., Bartleby) "prefer" only to be left alone. Other people may feel sorry for them and want to reach out to them, to "get inside their head" and help them, but when the person fails to respond to their overtures of assistance and they come to the eventual realization that they are incapable of "forcing" the person to accept their offers of kindness, they begin to feel that that person's very presence is a source of irritation and they finally can no longer put up with it, despite their earnest hope to help him or her. It's a very bleak picture, leaving one with the persistent feeling that "somehow, maybe I could have done more..." Any other ideas?
I have pondered this story many years, and my guess is that it is about Bartleby being mentally ill. Think how we treat mentally ill people even now, that is one perspective. Of course the story could be viewed many ways...Bartleby being spiritually adrift and out-of-touch and alienated even from himself, etc... Can anyone really save anyone else is very much a theme in the story so I like your limits of philanthropism question. It certainly makes one think!
Sep 21, 2011 5:59 pm