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Appearances In Bartleby And The Purloined Letter

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Many people believe that a person's appearance does not define his motives or his personality. Because of this belief, many people are taught to be wary of other people. Though this belief is partially true, there are some people in this world who are what they appear to be. In Henry Melville's "Bartleby" and Edgar Allan Poe's "The Purloined Letter", these two types of people are observed and explored. In these two texts, there are people are who are not what they initially appear to be, such as Dupin in "The Purloined Letter", and people who are exactly what they appear to be such as the Turkey and Nippers in "Bartleby".

In Henry Melville's "Bartleby", the narrator initially has two scriveners working for him, Turkey and Nippers, before Bartleby is hired. Turkey and Nippers are the type of people who are exactly what they appear to be. According to the narrator, Turkey always dressed in a sloppy manner with his clothes oily and smelling of eating houses and his pantaloons loose and baggy. Turkey is a glutton at heart and though he was an elegant scrivener in the morning, by the time he finished his meal around noon, he would have a fiery temper who had "a strange, inflamed, flurried, flighty recklessness of activity about him" (Bartleby 109/3) and his neatness in copying would be lost. Nippers, though the exact opposite of Turkey, is also a man who was what he appeared to be. Nippers was an ambitious man and his clothes exhibited his personality well. Nippers dressed in a gentlemanly sort of way and in the morning, because of indigestion, Nippers always had a fiery temper and complained about things such as the height of his desk. However, by the time noon came around, Nippers indigestion would wane and he would also be an elegant and neat scrivener.

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Purloined Letter" portrays a different type of person than that of Turkey and Nippers. The protagonist of the story, Dupin, is initially sought out for advice by the prefect of the Parisian police in solving the mystery of a stolen letter. The case presented to Dupin seems rather simple, since the police already know that Minister D. had taken the letter and that the letter has to be in his apartment. Also, the letter is of grave importance that could be harmful to a powerful individual. However, the prefect had already conducted a thorough search of the minister's apartment without producing the stolen letter. Thus, he asks Dupin for advice. Initially, Dupin appears dumbfounded by this case just like the prefect. The only advice he is gives to the prefect is to conduct another search. However, Dupin is a logical and deductive man, and though he appears to have no idea as to where the letter is hidden, he is able to retrieve it within a month and asks for a portion of the reward money that is being given for return of the stolen letter. Dupin was able to steal the letter



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