One Characteristic Trait
Among the stories in the five different units of the course, the three that have characters that possess a common trait are Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” and Ernest Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home. ” The three characters that share a common trait are Bartleby (Bartleby the Scrivener), Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman), and Krebs (Soldier’s Home), who, coincidentally, are all main protagonists in their respective stories.
In essence, the single characteristic trait that the three characters share is their inability to come to terms with their selves and their past or their inability to resolve their personal issues. This is shown as their respective stories progresses and their personalities develop. In “Bartleby the Scrivener,” the main character, Bartleby, a calm man of old age is initially illustrated as a very complex, puzzling, and seemingly incomprehensible character.
In fact, the Lawyer who hired him to a scrivener for his law firm and who is also the narrator of the story, described him as “one of those beings of whom nothing is ascertainable, except from the original sources, and, in his case, those were very small” (Merville n. p. ). In almost every task that Bartleby is asked to perform, his response would always be “I would prefer not to” (Merville n. p. ), which is also the single, most outstanding way to understand his character.
Although from an employer’s perspective, the lawyer was visibly irritated by Bartleby’s refusal to do work, he was also fascinated by the fact that his employee was able to do so and with conviction. He also found out that Bartleby is living in the office as he possibly does not have a home of his own. This is why despite Bartleby’s uselessness, his employer could not fire him. However, the questions of the lawyer about his employee were soon answered when he found out towards the end of the story that Bartleby worked at the Dead Letter Office, but lost his employment there.
The lawyer deduced that Bartleby’s loneliness was possibly further magnified by the number of undelivered mail he handles in his previous job. He also surmised that this is probably the best reason behind Bartleby’s seemingly weird attitude toward his job as a scrivener. In short, as shown in the story, Bartleby may not have been able to come to terms with the problems and conflicts that plagued his previous employment. As a result, his character plunged into a very deep gloom which is why he unable to comprehend anything around him.
As the lawyer guesses at the end of the story, Bartleby’s inability to resolve his personal issues made might have driven him to insanity. It this single attribute that forms the plot of the story as it made the lawyer ponder on the personality of Bartleby. Likewise, in “Death of a Salesman,” the main character, Willy Loman, is not also able to resolve his past issues in the story. As shown in the play, Willy is one of the typical persons who desire to achieve the American Dream in which he can attain all the material comforts of life with his “attractiveness” (Miller n. p. ) and likeability.
In other words, it can be said that he has a superficial definition of the American Dream and as a result, he does not get the results he wants. In the play, Willy is illustrated as a poor salesman. Most of the time, he is unable to make ends meet. He has a hard time paying for the bills, the insurance, and the car, and to make matters worse, he fails to recognize the realities that he is facing everyday. In this regard, the main unresolved issue that Willy faces is his relative failures at almost everything. As a father, he fails at ensuring that his eldest son, Biff becomes successful as an adult.
In the play, Biff is depicted to be a failure in business and in school. But the worse part is that Willy refuses to acknowledge this reality and instead surrounds himself with delusions and lies. As shown in the play, he constantly daydreams of being successful as a salesman and having equally prosperous sons. As a result, Willy is driven to the point where he acts irrationally. He often scolds his son Biff for being a failure and constantly rejects the love that his family gives him as seen in his arguments with his wife Linda.
Most of all, Willy is shown to have a lot of pride as he refuses the job offer that Charlie, his neighbor, has offered him. Ultimately, he is forced to commit suicide which can potentially enable his son to live the American Dream that he failed to attain. In short, Willy’s failure to recognize and accept the reality around him and his constant illusions resulted in his doom. Although his story is tragic, even after his death he is still unable to resolve his various issues because he still was not able to obtain the results that he desired.
Therefore, not even his frequent delusions allowed him to experience a self-realization that could have made him come to terms with himself and with his past. Similarly, in “Soldier’s Home,” the protagonist, Krebs is also unable to have his own self-realization that would have resolved his personal issues. In the story, as a soldier, he is shown to have recently returned from the war, which has significantly transformed his character and altered his beliefs in life.
However, he does not get the heroes’ welcome that most soldiers usually get after a war because his fellow soldiers went to his hometown ahead of him. In addition, he cannot make anyone listen to his stories from the war and he is convinced that people have heard too many horrible stories from his fellow soldiers that they may not be able to take anymore. In order to make people listen to him, he concocts believable but fake stories about the war although most of these stories bore the people listening to him including his mother.
Furthermore, throughout the entire story, he is shown to be empty, shallow, and somehow lost mainly due to his experiences in the war. When he watches girls in his town pass, he barely notices them and simply states that he does not want to get involved in the lies and politics that surround courtship. When his mother asks him if he loves her, he Krebs answers that he does not because he no longer has the ability to feel or to love. In the end, he surmises that he must get a job in Kansas City where there is less confrontation and where he believes his life can go smoothly
Generally, as shown in the story, Krebs’ war experiences have left a permanent scar on his character in a way that it completely changed his outlook in life. As illustrated in the story, he is no longer able to feel almost anything at all. He seemingly does not care for anything in the world and is visibly traumatized by the fighting in the war. As a result, like the other two characters mentioned above, Krebs is unable to find inner resolution and inner peace which would have enabled him to move on with his life.
In other words, he is more or less stuck in the past. Over-all, Bartleby, Willy Loman, and Krebs, share a similar characteristic in the sense that they have past issues which remain unresolved even after their respective stories ends. They continue to live their lives in the past and are unable to acknowledge the realities before them and move on. Furthermore, their main issues also form the central plot of their respective stories. It can then be deduced that the striking similarity between these three characters is that they are more or less doomed by fate.
Their inability to come to terms with their past is depicted as if they were meant to be like that and remain incapable of experiencing any self-assessment or realization. Works Cited Hemingway, Ernest. “In Our Time: Soldier’s Home. ” 2009. Spark Notes. com. 9 May 2009 <http://www. sparknotes. com/lit/inourtime/section27. rhtml>. Melville, Herman. “Bartleby, the Scrivener. ” 2006. The Project Gutenburg. com. 9 May 2009 <http://www. gutenberg. org/catalog/world/readfile? fk_files=49195>. Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Reed Business Information, Inc, 1999.Sample Essay of StudyFaq.com