Bartleby In A Dead Letters Office

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Maria Hatzioanidis 12/10/15 Constructing America *Bartleby is primarily set in a lawyer's office on Wall Street in the 19th century.** Bartleby is hired in the office and sectioned off to do copying. He is a diligent worker until asked to do tasks other than copying in which he refuses and states “I would prefer not to.” Eventually he refuses to do any work at all and even refuses to leave the office building after he is fired. He then gets sent to jail and starves to death. The narrator can’t seem to understand why Bartleby would act this way, and attributes Bartleby’s death to his previously depressing and isolating work in a “Dead Letters Office.” Melville purposely ends his story with the narrator’s oversimplified reasoning as…show more content…
Even in the lawyer’s office in the story the employees are analyzed for their workplace tendencies rather than their personalities or past. Many of the characters are given nicknames and not real names. For the narrator he only takes a keen interest in Bartleby’s past when he realizes he can’t understand him. The narrator states, “While other law copyist I might write the complete life….I believe no materials exist for a full and satisfactory biography of this man[Bartleby]” (3). The narrator can’t seem to put Bartleby into a category like his other workers. He is completely thrown off by Bartleby stating “For it was exceeding difficult to bear in mind all the time those strange peculiarities, privileges and unheard-of exemptions, forming the tacit stipulations on Bartleby’s part under which he remained in my office” (15). In this new workplace environment, what is valued is total conformity and efficiency. ***For Bartleby by not conforming to this methodical isolating environment he is able to push against it. So, as Bartleby deviates from what is expected, everyone has no idea how to react and the methodical system of the workplace is thrown
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