Bartleby the Scrivener
The narrator of "Bartleby the Scrivener" is the Lawyer, who runs a law practice on Wall Street in New York. The Lawyer begins by noting that he is an “older gentleman” whose profession has brought him "into more than ordinary contact with what would seem an interesting and somewhat singular set of men, of whom as yet nothing that I know of has ever been written:- I mean the law-copyists, or scriveners"(Melville 153). Even though the Lawyer knows many interesting stories of such scriveners, “he waive the biographies of all the other scriveners” (Melville 158) in favor of telling the story of Bartleby, whom he finds to be the strangest of all the scriveners he has ever known. Bartleby is, according to the Lawyer, "one of those beings of whom nothing is ascertainable, except from the original sources, and, in his case, those were very small” (Melville 154).
The narrator begins this novel by describing himself as a “man who, from his youth upwards, has been filled with a profound conviction that the easiest way of life is the best” (Melville 154). He uses multiple illusions to depict the confinements of his environment; the blank walls, brick walls, and privacy screens.
Aside from the Lawyer and Bartleby, the only other characters in the story are two copyists and an office boy. The first copyist introduced is Turkey, a short, pursy, Englishman, who is productive in the mornings, but drunk by the afternoon. From that point on, he is less than productive. When drunk, he's brash and over-enthusiastic. Nippers, the second copyist is "the victim of two evil powers ambition and indigestion" (Melville 156). Though not a drinker, young Nippers' natural temperament is so irritable that it hardly matters. But because his irritation is caused by indigestion, his irritability dwindles as the day goes on. Thus, when Turkey is productive, Nippers is foul-tempered, and when Nippers is productive Turkey is drunk. Ginger Nut, the office boy, is...
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