In the 1850s, the United States considered itself to be moving towards a new future, a democratic ideal specially released from limitations of the past. At the same time, the nation maintained its position to slavery and continued its colonialist expansionism. Writers like Herman Melville responded to this democratic hypocrisy by scrutinizing the cause and effect of America s racist and capitalist ideology. My thesis is that Melville s Bartleby, the Scrivener and Benito Cereno can be seen as two different but complimentary approaches to critical thinking; encouraging self-criticism on both a personal and a national level and meant to inspire democratic progress. By using narrative theory, I look at how the narrative devices in the two stories, such as focaliser and narrator, reflect topicality and put different demands on the reader.