Man versus society is the ideal theme of Herman Melville's incredible short story "Bartleby, The Scrivener". Bartleby, a copyist employed in the narrator's shop, stands different among all the workers. He is ghostly, uncommunicative, and repetitive. It appears as though Bartleby and Wall Street, the society he is in, cannot exist together.
Bartleby is first introduced to us when he shows up for work, "In answer to my advertisement, a motionless young man stood upon my office threshold, ...I can see the figure now- pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurable forlorn! It was Bartleby" (25). Bartleby when compared to the other workers was unusually clean, mellow and stationary. Wall street is a busy place filled with busy people. People have somewhere to go and something to do. Bartleby was the antithesis to that. He could not be alleviated of us loneliness. He was like a lost puppy in a world of dogs.
He did not do anything that made him seem different from the rest of workers at the company. From the first time we are introduced to him he seems already dead, the color of his face is pale and he stands motionless in the doorway.
Later on in the story, we get a closer look at Bartleby, "...he never spoke but to answer...I had never seen him reading...for long periods he would stand looking out, at his pale window behind the screen, upon the dead brick wall...he never visited any refectory of eating-house...he never drank beer...he never went anywhere in particular...never went out for a walk...declined telling who he was, or whence he came, or whether he had any relatives in the world; that though so thin and pale, he never complained of ill- health" (34). Bartleby does not do anything a healthy, normal adult male would...