Summer reading response: Bartleby the Scrivener

Bartleby the Scrivener was shocking to read. I was engaged in the role of the narrator, and I too, became confused, angry, and felt pity. Bartleby is determined to commit a “passive suicide” the moment he showed up at Wall Street. The character makes no mentions of his past, his future expectances, and keeps his basic needs to the very bare minimum. When he was first assigned the job of a scrivener, he worked the longest hours. If assuming he came from the Death Letter Office and has a severe depression, then this could be his attempt at creating a remedy for himself. To me, he shows no will to live. The narrator makes a hint, “I might give alms to his body; but his body did not pain him; it was his soul that suffered, and his soul I could not reach.” For a character that shuts himself in his “hermitage,” he no longer wishes to own anything or have connections with anyone. It also made me think about the job of a Scrivener. How much they resembled printing machines today! How could anyone be happy in a life like this? I have nothing much more to say about the condition of Bartleby. I feel that the entire story is actually involved around the reactions of the narrator. The narrator remains anonymous and tells the story through a first-person perspective, which made me engage in it as if I was the narrator. The story isn’t only about how peculiar Bartleby is, it also includes many details I think are worth examining. These include the narrator’s interpretations of the office environment, his irritation towards the pitiful Bartleby, how his ego intertwined with his sympathy, and his mental debate about moral values such as charity. It is such a complex story (and in such a short length)!


2 thoughts on “Summer reading response: Bartleby the Scrivener”

  1. Great job Cecilia! I liked how you included all the emotions you felt while reading this particular story. You eve became angry, which is a huge surprise! Your ability to notice the lack of description in regards to the narrator was something I did not think of , what I will be sure to watch out for in future readings.

  2. Hi Cecilia! I was also very engaged in this story due to the narration style. I agree that being a scrivener sounds like a mind-numbing role. This bland job coincides with how passive Bartleby is as a character, which is so interesting! Great job on this piece, you raise really interesting points : )

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