Similarities Between Bartleby And Willy Loman

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Bartleby, from Bartleby the Scrivener, and Willy Loman, from Death of a Salesman, are in many ways opposites. Bartleby is an extreme individualist; only doing what he wants to, no matter the personal or professional cost. On the other hand, Willy Loman is a conformist; he does what he is told, lives an average life, and pursues the “American Dream” like most Americans do. Bartleby and Willy also share similarities: both are physiologically broken and their respective individuality and conformity lead them to their deaths, albeit in different ways. The stories themselves are also similar in that they both critique American society. Bartleby and Willy are like two sides of the same coin, no matter which side faces up the coin still falls. Throughout …show more content…

The Narrator justifies keeping Bartleby and ignores his internal issues with confrontation. When Bartleby refuses to do anything but copy the Narrator forgives the behavior because Bartleby asked so politely. When Bartleby refuses to work all together the Narrator allows him to stay because he thinks it is a good thing to help Bartleby. Even when the Narrator realizes the he can’t have Bartleby in his office anymore he moves offices instead of making Bartleby leave. All these acts show us that the Narrator does not know how do deal with confrontation so he instead fools himself with excuses. Willy Loman behaves similarly with his perception that he is well liked. Willy insists that being well liked is the key to success and he is very proud of being liked. He also teaches his sons that being well liked is more important than getting good grades. This leads Biff to fail math in high school. Biff wants to retake the class in the summer but when he catches his father having an affair his perception of his father, his biggest role model, is shattered causing him to give up on the things he used to want to do. Willy represses this memory entirely and tries to blame others for Biffs behavior instead of himself. Willy also fools himself into thinking he is well liked and successful. In small moments of clarity Willy admits that people have made fun of his physique and no one talks to him anymore when he goes …show more content…

Death of a Salesman deals with a conformist unable to conform to his image of success and Bartleby the Scrivener addresses an extreme individualist who values what he wants to do over all else. Both paths lead to the downfall of the character, but from different angles. The two stories also question aspects of the perception of the American Dream. Death of a Salesman asks what happens when the American Dream fails and Bartleby the Scrivener questions whether the American Dream promotes conformity or individuality. The characters from both stories take two sides of the same issues; the conformist view and the individualist

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