"Bartleby the Scrivener"

Essay by TwilightChick18University, Bachelor'sA, March 2006

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The story of "Bartleby the Scrivener" is very pessimistic. There seems to be much more to Bartleby than the loser image he exudes. Bartleby seems to be living in his own world, which makes him dead to the real world that surrounds him. It is hard to figure out what caused him to end up this way, but the "dead letters" job he had is definitely one of the events that led him to end up "preferring not to".

The definition of "loser" is "one who is incompetent or unable to succeed: something doomed to fail or disappoint" (Merriam Webster). This describes Bartleby very well, almost too well. He is definitely unable to succeed because he is not a whole person. He has withdrawn from the world around him and yet he still exists. Bartleby is just a hollow vessel that used to be a man that died years ago.

He is described as being extremely pale, "pallidly neat, pitiably respectable and incurably forlorn". This makes you think of death. Herman Melivlle wrote this story during a part of his life where he felt invisible to the world because his writing was not famous during those times. At this time I think that he felt like a loser so he came up with Bartleby, a character that he could relate to.

"'Bartleby' is a tragicomic fable about a man, hemmed in by the walls of society, responding through the force of his passivity. It is equally about the accommodating lawyer who employed him and recalls his eccentricities. The lawyer attempts without success to persuade Bartleby to conform to the conventions of the profession, and eventually to help and to understand. In a subtle way, this tale of a legal scribe is likewise about the writer Melville and his...