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Metaphor in Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street

Metaphor Examples in Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street:

Bartleby, the Scrivener

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"pillar of salt..."   (Bartleby, the Scrivener)

This is an allusion to Genesis 19:26 in the Old Testament. In this book, God passes divine judgement on the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Two angels come to Lot and his wife and tell them to flee for their lives before God’s wrath descends. They command them to not look back on the burning city. However, as they flee, Lot’s wife looks upon Sodom and is turned into a pillar of salt. This phrase has become a metaphor which indicates the manner in which one becomes frozen in place when confronted with something shocking.

"As if long famishing for something to copy, he seemed to gorge himself on my documents. There was no pause for digestion...."   (Bartleby, the Scrivener)

Many of the story’s metaphors draw on food and consumption. When Bartleby first arrives at the lawyer’s office he “gorge[s] himself on… documents.” As the story progresses, his hunger, both for work and for food, fades. In many ways, greed and consumption serve as a thematic backdrop appropriate to the Wall Street setting, where economic interests reign supreme. Bartleby is a complete outsider in his literal and figurative lack of appetite.

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