Essay on Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener

1090 Words5 Pages
Since he will not quit me, I must quit him. "Ah Bartleby, Ah Humanity." (Page 140, Herman Melville) This is the key to Bartleby, written by Herman Melville, for it indicates that Bartleby stands as a symbol for humanity. This in turn functions as a commentary on society and the working world, for Bartleby is a seemingly homeless, mentally disturbed scrivener who gives up on the prospect of living life. However, by doing so Bartleby is attempting to exercise his freewill, for he would "prefer not to" work. His relationship to the narrator is thus significant, for as he attempts to exercise his freewill he is breaking from the will of the narrator and the normal progression of life. However, this attempt…show more content…
This resulted from a refusal to follow the orders of the narrator, for he refused to work or even communicate with him. His only response soon became "I would prefer not to," which shows his lack of involvement and in turn his decision not to interact in society, for he gave up what little life he still had. Ultimately, what he was doing, was preferring not to live, but instead just exist. Melville, is thus commenting on the work force by demonstrating through Bartleby’s continual descend into the abysmal, society confines you behind walls and that if you give in and choose to stop living you will waste away as Bartleby did. Consequently, Bartleby after having alienated himself so fully was then left to his own devices. "Since he will not quit me, I must quit him. I will change my offices; I will move elsewhere." (pg 132-133) He was deserted completely, for he was no longer living. Arnold, Page 3 He continued to breathe, he continued to exist, but he was no longer of any use to society. As he severs himself from humanity, Bartleby is unaware of the consequences. However, these consequences as displayed by Melville, comment upon the impact that the work force can have upon mankind. Through Bartleby, he demonstrates that once you give up on life, everyone around will give up on you in turn, as the narrator did with Bartleby, for you have become an obstruction, much like the
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