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Bartleby the Scrivener Essay Sample

← SymbolismThe American Tradition in Literature →

Bartleby the Scrivener is a short story that depicts the materialistic nature of the American society. The narrator of the story is a lawyer who has employed three scriveners and focuses on Bartleby, one of the scriveners. The main objective of this paper is to analyze the major character of Bartleby.

When Bartleby is first employed as a scrivener, he emerges as a hardworking person whose work is above Turkey and Nippers’s. He performs all the assignments given to him by the employer without questioning or refusing. As such, his employer describes him as, “…pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, and incurably forlorn” (Melville, 2001). Such description sets Bartleby above the rest of the employees with whom the lawyer has had problems. However, as time goes by, Bartleby’s character changes drastically. Moreover, he becomes indifference to the assignment of his employer. Notably, Bartleby displays rudeness through his refusal of the assignment from the employer through his characteristic answer, “I would prefer not to” whenever the employer makes any request to him (Burrack, 2007).

Since Bartleby came up as an obedient employee when he was hired, his change of attitude to the point of refusing simple and common assignments brings him out as a mysterious person, especially to his employer. Additionally, Bartleby exhibits the character of a lone ranger shrouded in secrecy. He does not reveal whatever is ailing him to anyone, and even when the employer decides to change office, he is adamant to remain at the former office. The office is desolate and the only thing that one can see from inside is the brick wall that is several meters away. Still, this desolation does not make Bartleby leave the office. Even after his former employer offers to take him to the new office, he prefers to remain at the old one.

In conclusion, Bartleby emerges as a passive person who is completely detached from the world. Moreover, this passivity makes him starve to death as he refuses to eat the food brought by his former employer.

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