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Melville Stories

Herman Melville

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Essay Topics

full title ·  "Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street"

author ·  Herman Melville

type of work ·  Short story

genre ·  Critique of mid-nineteenth century America

language ·  English (American)

time and place written ·  Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 1855

date of first publication ·  1853

publisher ·  Putnam's Magazine

narrator ·  The Lawyer (1st person narration)

climax ·  The Lawyer offers to take Bartleby into his home, but Bartleby refuses; the Lawyer leaves him to be arrested as a vagrant and imprisoned.

protagonist(s) ·  The Lawyer

antagonist ·  Bartleby

setting (time) ·  1850s

setting (place) ·  New York

point of view ·  1st person narration

falling action ·  Bartleby goes to prison and dies; the Lawyer hears a rumor that he worked in the dead-letter office.

tense ·  Immediate past (primarily retrospective, i.e. flashback)

foreshadowing ·  None

tone ·  The story is written by the Lawyer, who is reflecting on his experiences with Bartleby. The tone is one of interest, frustration, and regret.

themes ·  Charity; work ethics; middle-class boredom

motifs ·  Food (Turkey, Ginger Nut, Bartleby's refusal to eat, etc.)

symbols ·  None

full title ·  "The Encantadas or Enchanted Isles"

author ·  Herman Melville

type of work ·  Fictionalized impressions of the Galapagos Islands, told in ten "sketches"

genre ·  Travel literature

language ·  English (American)

time and place written ·  Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 1855

date of first publication ·  1855

publisher ·  Putnam's Magazine

narrator ·  Unnamed 1st person narrator

climax ·  If "The Encantadas" can be said to have a climax, it is probably the story of Oberlus the hermit, which is the longest and most involved of the ten "sketches."

protagonist(s) ·  The narrator

antagonist ·  None

setting (time) ·  1840s

setting (place) ·  The Galapagos Islands, near Peru

point of view ·  1st person narration

falling action ·  The tenth sketch

tense ·  Past (narrator's reflections)

foreshadowing ·  None

tone ·  "The Encantadas" has a romantic, reflective tone.

themes ·  Ruling over others; hermitic lifestyles; the dangers of the sea

motifs ·  None

symbols ·  Tortoises

full title ·  "Benito Cereno"

author ·  Herman Melville

type of work ·  Short story

genre ·  Mystery; adventure

language ·  English (American)

time and place written ·  Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 1855

date of first publication ·  1855

publisher ·  Putnam's Magazine

narrator ·  3rd person narration

climax ·  When Benito Cereno leaps into Captain Delano's boat, and Delano realizes that the slaves are actually in control of the San Dominick.

protagonist(s) ·  Amasa Delano

antagonist ·  Babo

setting (time) ·  1799

setting (place) ·  Off the island of Santa Maria, Peru

point of view ·  3rd person narration

falling action ·  Benito Cereno gives his deposition, which reveals the truth of what happened on the San Dominick; Cereno dies.

tense ·  Immediate past; that is, real-time narration

foreshadowing ·  There are many clues throughout the story that hint at the slaves' control of the ship; for instance, Captain Delano twice sees slaves manhandle the white sailors without reprisal from either the sailors or Cereno.

tone ·  The tone of "Benito Cereno" is mysterious and anxious, as Delano tries to figure out what's going on around him.

themes ·  Race; slavery

motifs ·  Grayness

symbols ·  Alexandro Aranda's skeleton

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Correction to the sixth section of Encantadas

by The_Great_And_Powerful_Ass, January 15, 2013

After her husband dies, the narrator speaks of two terrible things, which he should not mention, that happened to Hunilla. What are those things? They are buried in the semantics of Melville's writing, but: 1.) Hunilla actually becomes pregnant and has to try and have the baby herself because her husband and brother died on the catamaran. 2.) After she gives birth, the baby dies, and she is raped by men on a ship that boards the island. They leave after they rape her, leaving her alone again.
Not too long afterwards is when the other s... Read more

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