Criticism Of Bartleby The Scrivener

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Although Herman Melville never received sufficient recognition for his literary genius while he was alive, today he is regarded as one of the most iconic American writers ever. His most famous work, Moby Dick, is a classic for students and adults likewise. Herman Melville is also well known for helping make short stories into a serious form of writing in the US. Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street was not as well-appreciated as the action-filled Typee and Omoo, but today it is one of the most famous short stories ever. Bartleby the Scrivener takes an in-depth look at the new American workplace, capitalism, passive rebellion, and authority. The title character, Bartleby, can be interpreted many ways, including as an individual …show more content…
He employs four people, one of whom is Bartleby, whose job is to copy legal documents. The narrator is impressed at first with Bartleby’s punctuality, neat handwriting, and good work habits, although he does seem a bit strange. Bartleby never mingles with his co-workers, doesn’t share meals with anyone, and apparently has no social life. And then one day, out of the blue, the narrator asks Bartleby to help check over his work, and is met with the courteous response, “I would prefer not to.” The narrator, along with the other employees, is baffled. No one knows how to respond to Bartleby’s polite expression of preferring not to work. The narrator repeats his request, and additional requests, and Bartleby continues to reply with “I would prefer not to.” The narrator begs, orders, bribes, and does everything to make Bartleby work, and he still responds only with “I would prefer not to.” After the narrator fires him, Bartleby does not leave the office, leaving the narrator with no choice but to move to another office. At the end of the story the narrator hears that Bartleby has been imprisoned for refusing to leave the premises of the old office. The lawyer visits him in prison, but in the end Bartleby dies from starvation, as it appears he prefers not to eat. Later, after Bartleby’s death, the narrator …show more content…
Bartleby tends to get extremely focused on his work to the point of being oblivious to his surroundings, “Meanwhile Bartleby sat in his hermitage, oblivious to everything but his own peculiar business there.” (6 pg#) This quote shows how Bartleby is ignorant of things happening that aren’t directing impacting him. Bartleby also has poor eye contact: “He kept his glance fixed on my bust of Cicero, which as I then sat was directly behind me, some six inches above my head.” This quote explains how Bartleby avoids making eye contact with the narrator by looking past him, rather than at him. Sensory issues are present in Bartleby in the form of restricted food preferences, eating only ginger-nut biscuits. “He lives, then, on ginger-nuts, thought I; never eats a dinner, properly speaking.” (6, pg#) This quote shows how Bartleby is a picky eater, a common autistic

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