Bartleby the Scrivener is a short story by Herman Melville that tells the story of Bartleby, a scrivener who suddenly begins refusing to do any work for his employer. Despite Bartleby’s strange behavior and lack of explanation, his employer attempts to help him and understand his reasons for refusing to work.
This Bartleby character analysis explores the various complexities of Bartleby’s character, highlighting his struggles with conformity and isolation in an increasingly modern world. Through Bartleby’s actions and interactions with others, we see both the strengths and weaknesses of human nature, as well as the complex relationships between people in different social classes and professions. Whether you’re studying Bartleby as a literary figure or simply interested in his intriguing story, this Bartleby the Scrivener character analysis offers a fascinating glimpse into one of literature’s most enigmatic characters.
Bartleby is characterized as apathetic. He began to write in silence, palely and mechanically at first when he wrote. He’s also called a phantom. It should be noted that the narrator’s difficulties with his other employees are due to their unreliability, sloppiness, and temper-flaring. Turkey and Nippers are far from Bartleby, yet the core struggle of “Bartleby the Scrivener” is an emotional one. The narrator cannot deal with someone who appears to have no human qualities.
Bartleby’s character is one that remains an enigma throughout the story. He seems to have no emotions or feelings and simply performs his duties in a mechanical manner. The narrator struggles to come up with a solution for Bartleby, as he cannot understand what Bartleby’s intentions are and why he has chosen to act this way. Ultimately, Bartleby comes across as somewhat inhuman and almost like a ghost – eerily mysterious, but impossible to pin down or label.
Despite Bartleby’s apparent lack of motivation or purpose in life, he still manages to be a model employee. Bartleby is always punctual, never makes mistakes in his work and is always polite. In many ways, Bartleby is the perfect employee – except for his refusal to do anything beyond the bare minimum required of him. Bartleby’s passivity ultimately leads to his downfall, as he simply stops working one day and can offer no explanation for why.
The narrator initially tries to reason with Bartleby and convince him to return to work, but Bartleby simply replies “I would prefer not to”. This catchphrase becomes Bartleby’s defining characteristic, as he passively resists any attempts to make him leave or change his behaviour. Bartleby’s refusal to toe the line ultimately proves his undoing, as he is eventually arrested and sent to a psychiatric hospital.
Ultimately, Bartleby’s character remains mysterious and ambiguous – it is impossible to determine what exactly motivates his actions or why he acts this way. Nevertheless, Bartleby’s story serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of conformity and blindly following orders, and the human desire for freedom in all its many forms.
There appears to be some sort of organic technology in place in Turkey and Nippers’ operations, as well as how their personalities vary: “Their fits relieved each other, like guards. When Nipper’s was on, Turkey’s was off; and vice versa” (Bartleby the Scrivener). It is a strong statement about what it means to act according to a certain notion of humanness.
In his short story “Bartleby the Scrivener”, Herman Melville explores the limits of what it means to be human through Bartleby’s character. Bartleby is a quiet and unassuming scrivener who works in an office alongside other busy clerks. Despite Bartleby’s apparent meekness, he consistently refuses to perform even simple tasks for his boss, choosing instead to remain passive and detached from the world around him.
Throughout the story, Bartleby exhibits several key defining characteristics that highlight his unique understanding of human nature. One such characteristic is Bartleby’s deep sense of morality, which manifests itself in both his refusal to work and his ability to remain calm and unruffled in the face of adversity. Bartleby’s passive resistance also speaks to his profound sense of self-assurance, which allows him to stand firm in his convictions even when faced with strong opposition and disapproval from others.
Ultimately, Melville suggests that Bartleby’s behavior can serve as a rebuke against society’s instrumentalization of individuals. Rather than being defined by what they do or produce, Bartleby shows us that true humanness lies in our individual choices and how we choose to live our lives. Through Bartleby’s character, then, Melville offers us a powerful critique of the dehumanizing forces at work within modern society, calling on us to consider our own concepts of humanness and morality.
Bartleby’s unique understanding of these ideas offers us a new way of thinking about what it means to be human, ultimately expanding our own limited conceptions in the process. Bartleby the Scrivener is not just a character; he is a challenge to everything we think we know.
The author may be implying that humans have flaws; yet losing the capacity to feel and connect with one’s environment is perhaps the most devastating loss of humanity. Bartleby’s tale is a human tragedy. Beginning normally enough, Bartleby, the new guy, visits an office that has already been established and begins working right away.
Bartleby’s stint at the law office is a short one, however. Bartleby begins to show signs of stress in his work, and eventually, he refuses to do any work whatsoever. Bartleby becomes more and more withdrawn, until the point where Bartleby simply stops working all together, which forces the lawyer to fire him. Bartleby moves into an apartment nearby the old office, but his condition continues to worsen over time.
Bartleby is unable to maintain a job, and begin living on handouts from passers-bys who see Bartleby pleading for money while sitting outside on the sidewalk with no possessions other than his coat. Eventually, Bartleby gets arrested as a vagrant and sent away to a hospital. Bartleby dies at the hospital, and his ultimate fate is unknown.
Despite Bartleby’s tragic trajectory throughout the short story, there are some deeper themes that emerge about human nature and society as a whole. One major theme that seems to emerge from Bartleby’s story is that no matter how hard someone tries to disconnect from their surroundings, it is ultimately impossible. Bartleby becomes so disillusioned with his role in society and with the legal system specifically, that he rejects everything around him – from his job to his living situation.
However, Bartleby cannot seem to entirely break away from the world around him; instead of moving on to another job or finding an alternative place to live after getting fired, Bartleby ends up staying in the same area, begging for money from strangers. Bartleby’s story highlights the fact that even though it is possible to withdraw from the world around us, it is ultimately impossible to completely detach ourselves from society.
Another theme that Bartleby’s story brings to light is the idea that tragedy can be found in the most ordinary of places. Bartleby’s story is not one of a grandiose event or a spectacular fall from grace – instead, it is a much more subtle tale of a man who slowly slips away from reality until he is barely hanging on. Bartleby starts out as a seemingly normal guy, just looking for a job to support himself.
However, Bartleby’s mental state deteriorates over time until he is unable to function in society anymore. Bartleby’s story shows that tragedy does not have to be loud or flashy in order to be impactful; sometimes, the most tragic stories are the ones that unfold right in front of us, in plain sight.
In conclusion, Bartleby’s story is a tragedy about a man who slowly loses touch with reality and eventually dies an unceremonious death. Bartleby’s story highlights some deep truths about human nature and society as a whole, which makes it an impactful and thought-provoking read.