Melville Stories

by: Herman Melville

Key Facts

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