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Bartleby, the Scrivener

Uploaded by felicia beth on Jul 24, 2004

Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener”: A Story of Wall Street

Herman Melville presents this story through a nameless narrator who is the lawyer. An elderly lawyer who sees himself as a good businessman, helping wealthy men transact with mortgages, title deeds, and bonds. The lawyer introduces us to one of the strangest man he has ever known, Bartleby. The lawyer has already employed two other scriveners, Nippers and Turkey. Nippers suffers from eating disorders while Turkey is a drunk, but the office continues to operate since in the mornings Turkey is clear-headed even though Nippers is bad-tempered, and in the afternoon Nippers has comforted down even though Turkey is drunk, so both balance into one worker. Ginger Nut, the office boy, receives his name from bringing little cakes to the other scriveners. Bartleby arrives after answering to an ad; the lawyer hires the forlorn looking young man in hopes that his tranquility will calm the temperaments of the other scriveners.


Bartleby is requested to help proofread a document he has copied, he simply replied, "I would prefer not to." This is the first of many refusals. The narrator is not only shocked but irritated with Bartleby as well. Bartleby from now on will take part in less and less duties in the office. The lawyer tries numerous attempts to reason with Bartleby. Bartleby continues to respond the same way when requested to do something or give any information about himself he always replies: "I would prefer not to." One day, while the lawyer decides to visit the office, he finds out that Bartleby has been living in the office. Bartleby is an isolated man. After all, nights and Sundays on Wall Street is like a ghost town. The Lawyer does not know how to feel since he is confused and feels revulsion and pity for Bartleby and his peculiar behavior.
Bartleby is continuously described as ghost like and pitiful. Bartleby always refuses duties, until at last he is not working at all. The lawyer cannot get rid of him. The scrivener seems to have a strange power over his employer, and the narrator feels pity and can’t do anything to hurt this hopeless man. The lawyer’s attempts to rid of Bartleby are...

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Uploaded by:   felicia beth

Date:   07/24/2004

Category:   Miscellaneous

Length:   3 pages (654 words)

Views:   1866

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