Bartleby the Scrivener

Bartleby the Scrivener

Bartlebythe Scrivener

Thestory “” is centered on Bartleby as themain character who is presented through the narration of an oldlawyer. The main focus of the story is the relationship that the maincharacter has with the narrator and the way he performs his job. Thestory focuses on the forms of relations that he has with his fellowemployees at the office. Bartleby comes into the story after the lawpractice of the narrator becomes increasingly demanding and workrequires him to engage the assistance of a scrivener (Mathew 172). Tohelp him in his law practice, the lawyer engages the services ofBartleby,as a scrivener in his office.Bartlebyis presented as a hardworking individual who is committed to his workand assisting the narrator runs his law practice. This is because hewas employed when work demands were high at the work place. Beforeemploying Bartleby,the old lawyer already has the services of other two Scriveners,Turkey and Nippers, and is also assisted by Ginger Nut, an errand boy(Melville 2). Afterhis employment, Bartleby works well together with his colleagues andstarts out to be an excellent copyist in the office (Inge 120).Before his immediate change of character, Bartleby is keen to what hedoes, and the narrator is satisfied with the way he does his work.Atthe same time, Bartleby is presented as a person who adopts two sidesof the character. On one side, he was committed to his work andminded his job with high regards. On the other hand, he changescharacter and becomes a person who does not care about what happensin his life. On this side, he is presented as a non-caring andinsensitive person who does not heed to the issues affecting hislife. The extremes of this character are seen when he avoids leavingthe work station and even decides to live there (Inge 120). Even whenthe narrator shifts his office from the location, Bartleby stillcontinues to live there. To the dismay of the business associates ofthe lawyer, Bartleby spends days sitting on the stairs of thebuilding.However,Bartleby is presented as an ignorant person who does not seem to beconcerned with what is happening around him. The character changefrom the conscious and committed worker to non-concerned individualearns him the ignorant personality (Mathew 173). He answers “Iwould prefer not to” to most of the work given to him and theissues that surround him(Melville 6). Hestarts by evading most of the work by gradually preferring not to dosome tasks. As a result, he develops an attitude of not knowing orunderstanding anything that takes place at work, or even in hispersonal life. While he was not like this in the beginning, hechanges to take another side of his life that eventually leads him todeath. Thetwo sides of Bartleby’s CharacterThetwo sides of Bartleby are well presented by the anonymity of thenarrator. The old lawyer remains anonymous throughout the plot andthe context. While Bartleby is the main character, it is the narratorwho introduces the context of the story and the entire plot. Heintroduces all the characters in the story and presents thecharacterization descriptions that open the audience into the livesof the other characters (Weaver 109). This way, the two sides ofBartleby’s character are described by his independent actions. Theaudience can objectively evaluate Bartleby based on his interactionwith the employer and his colleague. Through his actions, the twosides of Bartleby as the main character are contrasted with a view tomake the audience tend to interrogate the cause of his problems.Hissecond side of his character is symbolized by the phrase “I wouldprefer not to” to indicate the level of his uncaring attitude. Hischange has affected his work, behavior and finally his life. Hischaracter so damaged that he prefers not to leave the office and gohome or even find a place to stay. He also prefers live at the officeand symbolically refuses the offer from the narrator to join him andlive with him. This shows how the second character of his life isdominated by the “would prefer not to” attitude that now defineshis character (Inge 121). In addition, his life hangs on the linewhen he is evicted from the office location and taken is imprisonedat The Tombs. It is in this place where his second side of characterleads him to death by starving himself, as he prefers not to eat. Origin of his character andsocial point of viewFroma literary point of view, the narrator uses his anonymity in thestory to create a character in Bartleby that aims at communicating anissue in the society. The character of Bartleby seems to have beencreated to show characters originating from a clinical condition or apsychological problem (Mathew 167). The character of Bartleby mayhave been created by the narrator to present the plight of people whoface clinical or psychiatric problems in life. From a critical pointof view, there must be a logical explanation of the immediate shiftof character of Bartleby. Critically evaluating the situation,Bartleby could have been a victim of a clinical condition likedepression. This is because he showed no motivation to live, orsurvive as he even refuses food while in detention.Anotherorigin of Bartleby’s character is the narrator himself. Thenarrator might be reflecting his own life experience through Bartlebyas a character in the story. This may be the primary reason why thenarrator chooses to remain anonymous, so that he can give prominenceto the character of Bartleby. It is worth noting that the narratordoes not give the reader any history of Bartleby, or any indicationto show the origin of the problem (Mathew 173). This could be anintentional action by the narrator in order to leave the task ofconclusion to the reader, after learning from Bartleby’s experience(Weaver 112). In addition, the lack of history means that Bartlebymust have come from the narrator’s mind, as a reflection of his ownpersonal experience.Thesocial aspect of this story can be critically observed from the waythe society treats Bartleby in his situation. The people aroundBartleby do not take any action to get a solution for him. Thenarrator cares about the plight of Bartleby, but does not take anyaction to solve his problems (Mathew 176). This shows the lack ofconcern on the cause of Bartleby’s problem and suggestion on theproblem. This is the reason why the narrator does not conclude theplight of Bartleby even with his death in prison. This shows how thesociety treats people like Bartleby by not caring about theirproblems.Works CitedInge,Thomas. Bartlebythe inscrutable: a collection of commentary on Herman Melville`s tale&quotBartleby the scrivener,&quot Hamden,Conn. : Archon Books, 1979, PrintMathew,Guillen.ReadingAmerica: Text as a Cultural Force,Palo Alto,&nbspCa:Academica Press,LLC, 2007Melville,Herman.&nbspBartlebythe Scrivener.New York: Herman MelvilleWeaver,Raymond. Shorternovels of Herman Melville, With an introduction,New York: Liveright Pub, 1942, Print