Bartleby

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What is the Boss up against in relation to Bartleby? Since the Lawyer never really contemplates Bartleby's refusal to be a working member of society. He is simply amazed by Bartleby's refusal to do anything, even eat, it seems, or find a place to live. Throughout the story, Bartleby simply exists; he does do some writing, but eventually he even gives that up in favor of staring at the wall. There are many more interpretations of Bartleby and the story, which will be discussed in the next section. It is important to note the other characters in the story, as well as Melville's style. The lawyer is also dealing with issues such as the rise of middle-class job dissatisfaction and depression, as well as realizing the future significance of Wall Street to American life. Yet it is also a deeply symbolic work; there are few, if any, real-life Bartleby’s, telling their employers they would "prefer not" to do something, yet remaining at that place of business. What does Bartleby represent? "Bartleby" is "A Story of Wall Street." Wall Street was at this time becoming the hub of financial activity in the United States, and Melville (as well as other authors, including Edgar Allan Poe) was quick to note the emerging importance of money and its management in American life. Under this reading, Bartleby's stubborn refusal to do what is asked of him amounts to a kind of heroic opposition to economic control. Who are the major players in the story? The Lawyer and Bartleby what do we know about them? The narrator of "Bartleby the Scrivener" is a well-established lawyer in his sixties, who runs a law practice on Wall Street in New York. The Lawyer begins by noting that he is an "elderly man," and that his profession has brought him "into more than ordinary contact with what would seem an interesting and somewhat singular set of men the law-copyists, or scriveners." Bartleby seems to be an excellent worker. He writes day and night, often by no more than candlelight. His output is enormous, and he greatly pleases the Lawyer. The lawyer is very sympathetic. One Sunday morning, the Lawyer stops by his chambers on a whim. To his surprise, he discovers his key will not fit in the lock. Then, the door is opened by Bartleby in his shirtsleeves. Bartleby asks the Lawyer to return in a few minutes, and the Lawyer finds himself compelled to obey. He returns to find Bartleby gone, but from signs around the office he realizes that Bartleby has been living there. This sad truth makes the Lawyer feel even more pity for Bartleby. The next day, the Lawyer tries to find out more information from Bartleby, about his life or his work, but Bartleby prefers not to tell the Lawyer anything about himself. Turkey and Nippers again threaten Bartleby, but the man ignores them. One important theme in "Bartleby" is that of charity. At first, this is due to the fact that the Lawyer simply doesn't know how to deal with Bartleby. He is so surprised that Bartleby refuses him (especially in such a calm manner), that he doesn't reprimand him. At one point, Bartleby's calm attitude—as if it were perfectly reasonable that he prefer not to do what the Lawyer asks of him—drives the Lawyer to wonder whether he's the one that's crazy: "It is not seldom the case that, when a man is browbeaten in some unprecedented and violently unreasonable way, he begins…to vaguely surmise that, wonderful as it may be, all the justice and all the reason is on the other side." In today’s world this kind of behavior would not be allowed, especially with the recession and many people looking for work. The first is Turkey, a man who is about the same age as the Lawyer (around sixty). Turkey has been causing problems lately. He is an excellent scrivener in the morning, but as the day wears on—particularly in the afternoon—he becomes more prone to making mistakes, dropping ink plots on the copies he writes. He also becomes more flushed, with an ill temper, in the afternoon. The Lawyer...
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