Bartleby The Scrivener Essay

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Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener has proven itself to be quite a strange and confusing story to many because of the main character’s ambiguous attitude throughout the story that goes on unexplained. The subtitle of the story, “A Story of Wall Street,” implies that the impact of the industrial revolution on living and working conditions in America was severe and had detrimental effects on many individuals living at the time. The narrator, upon analyzing his employees and other scriveners with whom he has had contact, becomes fixated on one particular employee – Bartleby. Bartleby’s refusal to participate in a workplace that represents the monotonous atmosphere of an industrialized society demonstrates what life was like for the working…show more content…
Initially, Bartleby performed a large quantity of writing, continuously working through the day and night, but the narrator stated that he “wrote on silently, palely, mechanically.” These observations by the narrator, who is of middle-upper class status and does not have the ability to relate to his employees or other members of the working class, give the reader a clear picture of what was expected of lower level employees at the time; expectations of working many more hours than most for low wages, leading these individuals to acquire an apathetic attitude about their work and about their lives in general. So, after several days of working as much as possible, Bartleby becomes uninterested in performing the tasks required by his job and, when asked to complete a task, he simply and politely responds, “I would prefer not to.” This (slightly irritating) response and ambiguity continues throughout the story, much to the narrator’s dismay, until the narrator finally moves the location of his office in order to rid himself of the ghostly character that has inhabited his office full time. Bartleby continues to occupy this location even after another lawyer has moved into the location,

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