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Bartleby Paper

April 14th, 2010 No comments

Did one ever want to live in New York? What about working on Wall Street? One might prefer not to after reading, “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” by Herman Melville. This short story is not only about life on Wall Street but also how one should treat others less fortunate then oneself.

The main character is an elderly lawyer who never takes risky deals or draws attention to himself. His personality is similar to that of a shy turtle. He also provides us with the story in the first person point of view, introducing the strange Bartleby.

Bartleby is “a motionless young man…pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn.” The lawyer hires Bartleby to be a copier, but after awhile, Bartleby says he would “prefer not to” do his work. Then the lawyer finds out that Bartleby is living in the office but he feels bad for Bartleby so doesn’t say anything. But when Bartleby stops doing his job, he asks Bartleby to leave.

Bartleby does not leave however; he “remained as ever, a fixture in my chamber. Nay-if that were possible-he became still more of a fixture then before.” Finally, the main character can take no more and he moves out of the building, instead of just putting a restraining order on Bartleby. The lawyer tries to be kind to Bartleby by giving him a job, letting him live in the office, even after he had fired him, and having patience with him when he says “I prefer not to.” This shows that the main character had enough compassion to finally just give up on Bartleby. Read more…