Free Essay

Journal Entry

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Cdaniel121
Words 444
Pages 2
Christopher L
In literature, the concepts of showing and telling are fairly straightforward, given a reader has some background knowledge. They are what one might think. When an author utilizes "showing", they are, in effect, showing the reader the character. The reader can infer as to the type of character that is in a story that is shown to us in their actions, the words they say, as well as their movements within a story. "Showing" a reader the type of character brings a direct likeness to an individual in a story, and we as the reader, can form our own conclusions as to the character. An author that utilizes the "telling" concept, says not of what the character is like, but allows us to form our own conclusions as to the character type in literature. The author using the "telling" characteristic is most often indifferent towards the characters in a literary work, thus allowing the reader to form our own conclusions as to a characters likeness.
The concepts of "showing" and "telling" are both used in the Herman Melville story "Bartleby the Scrivener". The first example of "showing" the Melville utilizes, can be found in the first three sentences, while the lawyer is describing himself. The line "I am an elderly man." is a prime example of "showing" due to the fact that it leave the reader without cause for guessing his age. Melville also utilizes both showing and telling while describing those characters prior to Bartleby. The line describing Turkey, "Turkey was a short, pursy Englishman, of about my own age", could leave the reader with questions regarding his age. This is an example of "telling", while the next line, "- that is, not far from sixty." answers any questions the reader may have by showing Turkey's age. Farther in the story, Melville utilizes the concept of "telling" takes over, when telling the story of Bartelby. Melville offers the reader to ask many questions from one simple response. "I prefer not to". When asked if he would tell anything about himself to the lawyer, Bartelby's response of "I prefer not to" leaves the readers full of question as to why he would choose to remain, in essence, recluse. What does Bartelby have to hide? Should it be alright for Bartelby to get into his personal life's details with the lawyer, or strictly keep business,to business? These are a only a couple questions that the reader could ask, while talking about Bartleby. Instead of "showing" us the background information, or the type of person Bartleby is, Melville utilizes the concept of "telling" so that we may infer our own judgements against Bartleby.

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