Response to Bartleby the Scrivener

Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville is a quite short story about a scrivener named Bartleby who is a copyist at a law firm at Wall Street in New York in the 18-hundreds.The story is narrated by the Bartleby’s boss, who is a wealthy man, not working very hard to make his money. There are four more main characters that are mentioned throughout the story. Three scriveners that work along side Bartleby: Nippers, Turkey and Ginger Nut. Then there is the narrator whom attempts to get rid of Bartleby as he simply appears at the law firm. The narrator, who is reveled to be 60-years old, feels bad for Bartleby but however sees that Bartleby’s attitude is not helping the business and therefore he has to leave the firm.

The reason that Bartleby is forced to leave the firm is that he simply says “I would prefer not to” to most of the jobs and tasks that he is given to him by the narrator and in fact the majority of the tasks that are give to him by anyone. At first when I read Bartleby reply in this way, I found him very annoying and I felt like he should just simply be thrown out and be rid off. But then when thinking more about why a man would start protesting in the way he does. That a man is so fed up and done with the world that he just decides that now he is going to just say no to every single thing he is asked to do. Bartleby must truly have given up on his life and on people around him as he seems rather arrogant and rude at times which means that he thinks that no one can help out with whatever has happened or is happening to him.

The narrator thinks that he is a very generous man by offering Bartleby 20 dollars if he leaves the firm immediately and I think the narrator also feels that because he came to visit Bartleby in prison, that means that he is caring and thoughtful of the people that are wealthy as he is. In actual fact I think this is very untrue, because if the narrator really cared about Bartleby and was a generous man, then he would’ve went and gotten Bartleby help or at least attempted to find out where he comes from or what’s wrong with him. It also seems like it comes as a shock when the narrator attempts to bribe Bartleby and he says no, as if the narrator is used to being able to get his way as long as he coughs up some money. It’s also revealed that the narrator is religious, which hints that the only reason that he is being kind to Bartleby, is so that he will go to heaven (or whatever good place there is) after death. This shows that though it seems like he is being selfless, he actually is being selfish, as he is only thinking about the good of his law firm and himself.

The story itself is not the most exciting story I’ve ever read but it does show that some people can actually sink down to the level where they are not willing to do anything more in this life and are willing to protest until they are able to move on to the next life (die). Also, that some people may seem very generous when they are explaining a story themselves but when someone else is telling it, it may be very different. I think you have to keep that in mind when you read the story. That the narrator is telling the story from his point of view and therefore we only know the story from his perspective. If we were to read the story from the other scriveners or by Bartleby himself, the story may be very different. There is no way of knowing for sure.

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