Bartleby, the Scrivener: The Journey of the Lawyer

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The Journey of the lawyer in “Bartleby, the Scrivener”

Through the struggle to come to terms with the unusual situation with his uncooperative employee Bartleby, the lawyer protagonist in Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener” realizes compassion for the human condition and is better off for the journey. The lawyer is a prime example of a story’s protagonist not knowing that he is on an interior journey. In the beginning of the story the lawyer is shown to be self absorbed in his work, but after Bartleby enters his life the inner journey begins to unfold as the lawyer confronts many obstacles in his relationship with Bartleby. Because of Bartleby’s failure to accept assignments, and later his refusal to work at all, the lawyer begins to examine himself in terms of his connection to Bartleby and all humankind. At the end of the story it becomes clear to the reader that the lawyer has been deeply changed by this struggle when he exclaims upon discovering the dead Bartleby, “Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!(153)” Every journey must have a starting point. In ‘Bartleby, the Scrivener”, the reader meets the lawyer at the beginning of the story through his relationship to the minor characters in the story and through his lengthy self-description. From the self-description we learn that the lawyer considers himself and even-tempered peaceful man (cite). The reader also can infer through statements such as his claim to “do a snug business” in “cool tranquility of a snug retreat”, that he is incredibly preoccupied with the aspect of his work which is not of a social nature (cite). As further proof of his aloof working habits, the lawyer has two rooms in his office and depending on his mood is know to sequester himself off behind the closed doors of his personal space (cite). When the lawyer describes his relationship to the minor characters in the story we learn that he has many challenges with the temperaments’ of his employee Scriveners, yet would rather suffer the...
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