Herman Melville created many characters in his writing that had a mysterious nature to them. Melville himself had a bit of mystery in his own personal character and this quality is shown through many characters such as Claggart and Bartleby. Besides having a mysterious side to him, this author was stubborn. Even though his work wasn’t always praised he remained determined and pretty much always wrote what he wanted to write. This stubbornness was shown through his characters Captain Veere in Billy Budd and Bartleby in the story ‘Bartleby the Scrivener.
’; Melville was also passively resistant and he shows this through his characters Billy Budd and Bartleby. Herman Melville portrayed himself in his writing by giving personality traits to his literary characters that were similar to the ones he himself possessed.
Melville had a strong desire to reveal the complexities of human life, so mystery was often a trait of his characters. An example of this would be his character Bartleby.
Throughout the story, the reader has no clue what Bartleby is thinking, so Melville creates an air of mystery about this character. Another of Melville’s characters that show this quality is Claggart in the book Billy Budd. Claggart is constantly referred to as being mysterious, ‘;#8230;a nut not to be cracked by the top of a ladies fan (Billy Budd). Besides being mysterious, Melville is stubborn and this comes out through his characters Captain Veere and Bartleby. Like most writers, Melville’s career had its ups and downs, and his work was not always praised. Even though readers didn’t always appreciate his writing or writing style, he continued to write the books that he wanted to write. He quotes ‘What I feel most moved to write, that is banned- it will not pay, yet, altogether write the other way I cannot.’;(P. 8 Cliffs). The author shows his stubbornness through the character of Bartleby. To every request directed at him he replies, ‘I’d prefer not to’;, which suggests the authors own obstinacy. Another of Herman’s characters that has a stubborn nature is captain Veere. He does not let his own feelings of those of the crew interfere with the strict facts of the case, which eventually resulted in Billy’s death. He remains stubborn with his decision and makes no exceptions in any case.
Another personality trait Melville portrays in his writing is passive resistance. By Melville not changing his writing style to please society he is passively resisting. Melville portrayed this theme in his characters Bartleby and Billy Budd. Bartleby used passive resistance when he refused to do the work he was asked to do. The character Billy Budd also resisted when the crew wanted to have a mutiny against the master at arms, Claggart. This way of thinking is not restricted to just Herman Melville’s writing, it can be seen in many other people in our history, Thoreau and Emerson being just two examples.
Melville portrayed himself in his writing by giving personality traits to his literary characters that were similar to the ones he himself possessed. The authors stubborn nature, air of mystery, and acts of passive resistance all contributed to his work. His strong desire to reveal the complexities of human life and not give in to the writing style that the public wanted at that time, make this authors writing unique and powerful.
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