batleby the scrivener Essay

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"Bartleby the Scrivener" is a complex story, so I am going to zero in on one particularly interesting and intelligent aspect of it. Due to the power of the message even this one particular aspect will be complex, of course. The first thing to note is that the story has a first-person narrator. The narrator, an anonymous lawyer, is in fact a major character in his own right. Ostensibly the story is about Bartleby and his actions as a scrivener. However, what the story is really about, in a sense, is the effect Bartleby seems to have on the narrator. We learn a great deal about the narrator, but more importantly, we see him undergo several rather significant changes. These changes bring to light Melville’s comment on the…show more content…
“Yet, thought I, it is evident enough that Bartleby has been making his home here, keeping bachelor's hall all by himself” (1120). Presumably the lawyer is also a bachelor. They may have more in common than immediately appears to be. Both are probably well acquainted with loneliness. This sense of loneliness and the ways in which Bartleby has been described in phantom terms are now connecting the two characters. Note how often we see Bartleby as phantom, as when the narrator roars his name until he appears. "Like a very ghost, agreeably to the laws of magical invocation, at the third summons, he appeared at the entrance of his hermitage" (1118). Later, we learn that Bartleby haunts the building. Like a ghost, he lives in the office when no one else is there, when Wall Street is a desert. A landscape both completely unnatural and forlornly empty (1120). Once again connecting the characters through loneliness. The narrator senses that there are parallels between himself and the scrivener, and Bartleby's gloom infects him: "Before, I had never experienced aught but a not-unpleasing sadness. The bond of a common humanity now drew me irresistibly to gloom. A fraternal melancholy! For both I and Bartleby were sons of Adam" (1120). Here, the narrator truly connects with Bartleby and so gains a new perspective on himself

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