Bartleby, the Scrivener
Melville composes Bartleby, the Scrivener as a story of descriptive symbolism. Many interpretations of Melville’s story exist, but through his detailed description of Bartleby and his work surroundings, one may assume from the obvious statements delivered by Bartleby that Melville’s story has an underlying message of passive resistance and opposition. Bartleby’s character also embodies privacy, solitude, loneliness, and individualism. The description provided in the text provides support to the attitudes and responses and help fuel Bartleby’s motives, or the lack of.
The beginning of the text begins with a detailed description of the narrator’s three other co-workers, Turkey, Nippers, and Ginger Nut. Each of these men have their own downfalls, perspectives, and attitudes that shape the lawyer’s character as a whole. Each of these men, with the exception of Ginger Nut who is only a boy, carry their own element of passive resistance. Turkey, for example has a pleasant attitude early in the morning. However, past noon, he becomes sloppy with his work, spilling ink over important documents and acting disorganized. Upon the lawyer’s suggestion to retire after the first half of the day, Turkey refuses claiming his age to be similar to that of the narrator, thus finding no fault in his work. Nippers, with a similar story, is pleasant only in the afternoons and is often very disorganized and dissatisfied. These character descriptions are provided not only to show their passive opposition to their work at one point throughout the day, but to educate the reader on the character of the lawyer before Bartleby is introduced.
Bartleby is next introduced as new work in the copying office, but not before the narrator provides detailed description of the work space. Offering unique details on the office, we find elements of seclusion behind glass doors, ceiling windows that allow light through at some points, and a window that stares out into a...
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