Familiar Response To Bartleby

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Two Familiar Responses to “Bartleby”: One Internal and One External Perspective Herman Melville’s "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" is a short story describing the Narrator’s encounter with the titular character, a mysterious man hired by the Narrator as a copywriter. In class, we looked at the Marxist response to “Bartleby”. Upon my first read, I must admit that “Bartleby” didn’t appear to me as prime material for a Marxist response. Later, I realized that what I had done was accept the superficial explanation of Bartleby’s misfortunes as offered by the Narrator. By comparison, the critiques by David Kuebrich and Naomi C. Reed forwent some of the explicit suggestions of the text and instead focused on aspects of the character of Bartleby offered by circumstance and their own expertise as literary critics. It’s unsurprising that Kuebrich and Reed would view the story through a different lens than the Narrator based on the differing interpretive communities the two groups exist in. By analyzing these separate responses to “Bartleby” we can discover how these two different interpretive communities create meaning out of the tragic tale of a strange scrivener. First, we must allow ourselves to consider the Narrator as a “reader” of Bartleby’s story. I believe this is a valid position due to the Narrator’s unique perspective as a perpetually ineffectual nonparticipant in Bartleby’s fate. If we accept this view, then analyzing the Narrator’s ultimate conclusion
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