Bartleby Scrivener

874 Words4 Pages
The job of every author is not only to create a story with an interesting plot line, but also to create characters that capture the reader’s attention. In the classic story of, “Bartleby, the Scrivener”, author Herman Melville does an excellent job of portraying Bartleby in a way that leaves the reader wanting more. Not only does Bartleby’s character challenge the normal standards of the average employee, but the reader is also allowed to take a look into the mind of the author during a time of strife and struggles. Although it might be difficult for the reader to look past the many noticable differences between Bartleby and the average worker, once scratching the surface of comparisons they may be able to find similarities between Bartleby…show more content…
Bartleby supposedly worked from early morning to late at night, with no pause. All seemed to be going well for both employee and employer, until one day when asked to examine a paper, Bartleby replied that he, “would prefer not to” (page 155). The Lawyer was astonished; most likely because of the sudden change in behavior that his once diligent worker was exhibiting. Much time passed, and each attempt to get Bartleby to do his job was met with the same statement that he would prefer not to. The character of Bartleby is unlike any other in the story. The Lawyer’s other workers; Turkey, Nippers, and Ginger Nut, are portrayed as very realistic employees. Although shown to have a temper in the afternoons, Turkey works well in the mornings and does not refuse any task. Nippers is portrayed to be the opposite of Turkey, as he works well in the afternoons but suffers from stomach issues until lunch. Ginger Nut, while only an errand boy, seems to act as an average worker as well. Unlike Bartleby, all of these workers complete their tasks day in and day out without complaint or refusal. Comparing Bartleby to any real employee will show that there is a stark difference in behavior. Refusing to do a job in a working environment is not common, whether it be in the 1850’s where the story seems to take place…show more content…
When the actions of this character are applied to the life of the author, some comparisons can be made. Similar to Bartleby, Melville worked quickly and diligently in order to get his stories out in order to please his readers. The release of Melville’s works were very close together, with at least one a year in 1846, 1847, 1849, and 1850. While works written by Melville were met with great praise and popularity at the start of his career, the story published just before the tale of Bartleby was not received as highly. In 1851, “Moby Dick” was released into the public and caused Melville’s popularity to dissipate. Although he was struck by shock and disappointment that his readers were not prepared for the philosophical intensity that he had to offer, Melville continued to write stories of similar structure. Perhaps in a way Bartleby represents Melville himself, who keeps telling his readers, or the Lawyer, that he would rather not go back to writing the stories that they wanted him to just because they were more well received. Bartleby’s character can be seen as absolutely strange; he refuses to do what the Lawyer asks of him and continues on doing what he himself wants. However, when this story uses the authors situation, it makes much more sense. Melville, who once worked hard writing stories that
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