“Bartleby the Scrivener” Outline I. Introduction: A. Plot Overview B. Thesis Statement: The short story “Bartleby the Scrivener” is very difficult to interpret. However, I am going to interpret what I believe the reader should know for certain about Bartleby and why Melville provides so little explicit information about Bartleby. II. About Bartleby A. Bartleby is very complex character B. He is passively stubborn C. He looses interest in his work III. Why Melville provides little information about Bartleby? A. To connect with the reader B.
To leave room for interpretation IV. Conclusion: A. Restate thesis B. Reflections “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street” The short story “Bartleby the Scrivener” is very difficult to interpret. The author uses vague and confusing language to describe the Lawyer’s employee named Bartleby. However, I am going to interpret what I believe the reader should know for certain about Bartleby and why Melville provides so little explicit information about Bartleby. The short story “Bartleby the Scrivener” centers on a “scrivener” name Bartleby for a law firm.
The story is narrated by the Lawyer, who employs Bartleby, and tells the story of his strangest employee Bartleby. The Lawyer has two other scriveners, Turkey and Nippers, and an errand boy, Ginger Nut but finds Bartleby to be the most interesting of all the scriveners. As the story begins, the Lawyer realizes he needs another copyist. Bartleby answers the ad, and the Lawyer hires him. Bartleby writes swiftly and accurately for the first few days.
The plot of the story revolves around Bartleby’s refusal to carry out his employer’s orders.
When asked to perform a task, Bartleby frequently responds, “I would prefer not to”(pg. 160). This particularly passive form of resistance causes his employer much concern. Eventually, Bartleby refuses to do anything at all and simply stares vacantly at the wall. The narrator’s feelings for Bartleby alternate between pity and revulsion. The lawyer ends up firing Bartleby; however Bartleby prefers not to leave. After the narrator attempts to reason with Bartleby, the scrivener is forcibly removed and imprisoned.
The narrator visits Bartleby to find him in the same state of mind preferring to even eat. When the narrator visits again a few days later, he discovered Bartleby dead. Bartleby had starved. The Lawyer then ends his narration of the story with the one clue he was ever able to discover about Bartleby which was a rumor that the late scrivener once worked at the Dead Letter office, and was fired after the administration changed hands. This left the narrator along with the reader to wonder whether it was this job, sad and depressing as it is, that drove Bartleby to his strange madness.
The reader is left wondering what happened to this rather strange man and attempting to describe or understand Bartleby is complicated. It is difficult to attempt to describe Bartleby’s because the reader is practically given no information on him besides the physical characteristics. However, there are a few things the reader should know for certain about Bartleby. For one, we know that Bartleby is a complex character and passively prefers not to discuss his life and his past. Bartleby is homeless and does not eat much. He’s also passively stubborn and very set in his ways.
Melville uses the adjectives to describe the scrivener: pallid, forlorn, even cadaverous. These adjectives paint an unhealthy image of Bartleby of physical weakness. However, Bartleby’s passive resistance to anything demanded for him to do or suggested to him is unbreakable making him incredibly mentally strong. Bartleby’s quiet but impenetrable resistance ends up isolating him from the rest of the characters in the story. The decline of Bartleby pointed out through numerous details of the story, forces the reader to make conclusions about the Bartleby’s character.
Bartleby’s death suggests the effects of depression. He literally had no motivation to survive so he refrained from eating. However, we really never know why or what causing this odd behavior because Melville provides little information about the character Bartleby. The way Melville provides so little explicit information about Bartleby is particularly important to this story. In fact we don’t know anything about any of the characters beyond what they’re like in the office, not even our narrator. He could have chosen any number of different angles from which to provide information about Bartleby.
His choice of the lawyer allows us to get close to Bartleby, but still feel profoundly mystified by him. Melville leaves out a lot of explicit information about the scrivener and through this perspective, we quickly identify with the conflicted feelings of the Narrator. The story draws the reader in emotionally as if though the reader, like the Narrator, is involved in trying to deal personally with Bartleby. Through his telling of the story, the reader begins to strongly identify with the narrator and see Bartleby as both pathetic and a little frightening.
We also see everything through Bartleby’s coworkers, who are directly affected by the scrivener’s inaction. Also the story takes place in a law office populated by a set of odd men, whose relationships with each are suppose to be professional in nature. So I believe Melville provided little information because the business-based world in which the characters operate had no room for personal interaction. Melville’s technique keeps the reader fully engaged with the story as it headed towards its tragic ending.
Even though the story “Bartleby, the Scrivener” portrays the decline of Bartleby character as seen by the Lawyer and the author provides the reader with little information about Bartleby, it still allowed the reader to fully engage and appreciate the story. Also there were a few things the reader could have interpreted for certain about Bartleby even though Melville provided so little explicit information about Bartleby. Works Cited http://www. sparknotes. com/lit/melvillestories/section2. rhtml http://www. bartleby. com/129/