Subtext is any content in the creative writing that is explicitly shown by the authors or the
characters but it can be implicit after the reader or the observer goes though the work or
manages to read it. It is a method that is used by the literature writers to address various
issues in the society without attracting attention especially when the issue that is being
addressed is controversial in nature. The method is common in comedy and science fiction
where the author or performer finds it easier to make social critiques. The subtexts are
understood differently according to the background and the personal biases that the reader
has. It therefore means that there is a possibility that the readers may take a totally different
meaning from a text compared to what the writer intended.
The reader may read a story either from a non-conformity or from a metafiction level. Non-
conformity refers to the deviation from a specification, an expectation or a standard.
Metafiction on the other hand refers to a form of literature that continually creates emphasis
on its own contractedness in such a way that the reader will always be reminded of the fact
that the piece that he or she is reading is fictitious. The story titled “Bartleby, the Scrivener”
may be understood at either the metafictional level or the non-conformity level.
Bartleby, the Scrivener does not show the signs of metafiction and any person reading the
story may think that the author is narrating his or her experience. The writer is truly talking
about various issues in the world in a fictitious way in such a way that the readers may think
that the author is taking about his personal experience which is not the case. Bartleby, the
Scrivener is a story of a young man who has to die due to the fact that he is not able to
integrate to business and the life of the 19 th century Wall Street and his way of living is not
adequate in the new place that he finds himself in.
The author uses the level of romanticist work of non-conformity to address some issues that
people face in their lives. The story is taken to be a symbol for non-conformity on the
capitalist America. In a nutshell, the author aims to teach the readers that they are supposed to
conform to some norms and practices in the world if they have to survive in the society
noting the fact that if one fails to integrate in the society then there will be a big challenge on
his or her life and there is a possibility that the person may have to leave the place either
through death or migration. The author is therefore very keep to communicate to the people
in the society and tell them the importance of working with the others in the society as a very
advantageous thing that is supposed to be embraced for the benefit of the society.
Greenblatt, S., & Christ, C. (2012). The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Ninth
Edition. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.