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Melville's Bartleby and Poe's bereaved lover in "The Raven" express different states of...

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kareemoo | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted May 23, 2013 at 9:39 PM via web

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Melville's Bartleby and Poe's bereaved lover in "The Raven" express different states of extreme loneliness. Discuss and illustrate.

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted May 23, 2013 at 10:23 PM (Answer #1)

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Loneliness is an emotion; aloneness is a physical/psychological state. It has been clear for a century that Poe’s poem is a sincerely emotional reaction to loss, probably romantic. The narrator of the poem is describing a partly real, partly psychological state of losing his lover (or close person) and descending into a haunting state of repeated anguish, a kind of entrapment in the deep sorrow of his loss. The grace of the poem lies in its reflection on the insistence of the state, the inescapability of the mourning. Melville, on the other hand, is dramatizing an intellectual, philosophical state in which the scrivener has consciously chosen to separate himself from his environment (specifically the choice-making act of social existence). This is best termed aloneness, rather than loneliness, and the narrative line moves through several locations and degrees of isolation, with a secondary character who tries to engage Bartleby or otherwise urge him out of his voluntary state.

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