Ralph Ellison Invisible Man Analysis

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In Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man influences from Ellison’s personal interest and passion for art and sculpture have become the dominions for the narrator’s perception of power and disillusionment. As the narrator partakes in his own self-discovery of his invisibility, art is often present to describe the mindset and ideas at the time of the narrator. Elements such as sculptures and museum settings are implemented into the novel; together they landmark the different stages of transformation the narrator has towards realizing his true invisibility. The multiple elements of art in the novel are nods towards Ellison’s fascination for art. Ellison’s attention to portraits and visual artifact collections in his career reveals his awareness…show more content…
Bledsoe’s office after his eventful trip with Mr. Norton at the Golden Day. Unlike past encounters with Dr. Bledsoe’s office, the narrator suddenly becomes aware of the old heavy furnishings of the room (Ellison 137). The narrator is drawn to the photographs and plaques of past presidents, men with power who are “fixed like trophies or heraldic emblems upon the wall” (Ellison 137). The engagement with the office marks one of the narrator’s first experiences in a museum setting. Ellison’s influence and inspiration from art are an impetus that describes the narrator’s current culture and modern experience of art (Hall 777). The nature of the Dr. Bledsoe’s office also corresponds to the motives of institutions like the state college the narrator attends. The narrator is blindsided by Dr. Bledsoe and the college’s power to manipulate students; he fails to see the negative impact it has on him. In Dr. Bledsoe’s office the narrator demonstrates his yearning and admiration of power by the trophies and plaques that adorn the wall (Ellison 137). However, the narrator fails to follow the ideals of museum culture, where museums should engage viewers to interpret objects, exchange memories, and create a personal response to exhibits that induce fantasizing (Hall 782). The disillusionment in the narrator here is shown, where from the structure and the college, the narrator demonstrates the inability of his…show more content…
Bledsoe. As the narrator enters Mr. Bates’ office, one of the first buildings he attempts to deliver a letter to, a particular wall of portraits catches the attention of the narrator. On the wall hangs portraits of old men “who looked down from their frames with an assurance and arrogance that I [narrator] had never seen in any except white men and a few bad, razor shaved Negroes” (Ellison 167). The narrator is situationally aware and now recognizes the elements and effects of the museum culture of art unlike before in Dr. Bledsoe’s office. The narrator questions how superior men of the north were adept to “fit in with the southern white folk” who gave the narrator his scholarship (Ellison 167). The narrator’s confusion affirms the narrator’s understanding of the power Dr. Bledsoe had over the teachers of the college, for Dr. Bledsoe did not have the appearance of assurance and arrogance like the men in the portraits. At this moment, the narrator is solely focused on traditional success like the men pictured. The narrator here is endorsing “traditional portraits of power” and rejects the indigenous artifacts in Mr. Emerson’s office, the last trustee office he visits (Hall 783). The differences in the narrator’s attitude towards his own culture is exemplified while observing Mr.
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