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Commentary On "Bartleby The Scrivner" Essay, Research Paper

The character of the narrator might be identified as a rather self-centered

man who would rather ‘prefer not to’ undergo a confrontation with any of his

employees. This is evident in his decriptions of the employees and his so-called

good intentions when he sets himself as a tolerant, conducive man. It is obvious

that his intentions and actions are only for his own self interest and his

wanting to be thought of as helping those who are not as fortunate as he. All

along what he hopes to achieve with his charity is to help sooth his own vision

by improving the physical state of others. His avoidance of confrontation is

quite evident when he actually moves out of his office instead of having

Bartleby physically removed by the authorities. His character is tested with

Bartleby’s passive-aggressive attitude though I can not agree totally that he is

"softened" by his acquaintance with Bartleby because in some regards

he was already soft. Bartleby is definetly cut from a stronger cloth although he

certainly has his own mode of communication. He does not give into the Wall

Street hardness and does not do anything that does not suit him. He takes life

for what it is worth…nothing more and nothing less. Even though he literally

does not ask for anything, he sends his message loud and clear: I will do what I

feel necessary to survive and everything else, " I would prefer not

to." It is somewhat comical that in the strong corporate atmosphere of the

business world, you have a boss that would ‘prefer to’ no sooner pack it up and

get away from an employee than to have to deal with him. All in all, the

narrator is not cold and does end up with a conscience which is evident by his

checking on Bartleby both at the old office and the jail. I think Barlteby

challenged him in a way that he had never been challenged before and quite

honestly he did not know exactly what to do with him. Jamie Finkelman

I find the relationship between the author and Bartleby to be a very strange,

unrealistic one, at least in today’s society. Bartleby, an employee of the

author, is under the command of the author, and is getting paid to do what the

author says to do. Although Bartleby is very polite and unconfrontational when

refusing to do a job the author requests, Bartleby IS refusing. If he’s not

doing what his boss says as pertaining to his job, he shouldn’t get paid. The

job is not getting done. If there was a situation like this that happened today

in most any workplace, I would think that the uncompliant employee would be

terminated from his/her position that day. The author however, just allows

Bartleby to act in whatever way he chooses even when Bartleby is doing

absolutely no work whatsoever. An employer today would view this behavior as a

damage to his wallet and would therefore waste no time firing the employee. I,

personally, would have fired Bartleby because he would not even give a reason as

to why he would not do anything.

Jennifer, I think the strange relationship between

Bartleby and the employer is supposed to seem

unrealistic. it makes the reader, especially modern

ones, think exactly the way you did in your post. The

fact that employers would not or should not put up with

this kind of insubordination is exactly true. It makes

you wonder what is it about Bartleby that makes the

employer sympathetic to his "needs". The boss seems to

understand that there is something intrinsically wrong

with Bartleby, an underlying sadness that he cannot

determine the cause of, and I think he cares for him a

great deal and also pities him as well. This is why he

does not fire him or take extreme measures until he

absolutely has to.

Jen, I see what you mean about Bartleby?s relationship with the author. It

does seem very strange. I got the same feeling. I also found it weird that

Bartleby was refusing to do the jobs that the author asked him to do. You?re

right though he really is pretty considerate and respectful when denying the

fact that he has a job to do for his employer. This is the way that this

procedure goes the employer tells the employee what to do and when to do it. The

weirdness in the matter is that Bartleby is refusing to do so. Your very right

Jen, today this type of treatment towards your employer would get you

terminated. I would have to say that Bartleby has no real respect for his

employer, but only maybe an act. Someone who would do this to their boss would

be lacking manners.

The narrator seems to have a problem in the story, he is sympathetic with

Bartleby passed a reasonable point. The narrator allows Bartleby to just refuse

orders and still say employed, taking pity on him it seems. The narrator also

seems to avoid confrontation with many others too, to the point of moving out of

his office. Now he comes off as both a hard and easy man, he does what is

required of him mostly, except when it comes to Bartleby. In Bartleby’s case,

the narrator is like a wet noodle, bending to Bartleby’s whims, even though he

should be fired. I think the narrator perhpas was a cold man, but that Bartleby

let him see a side of humanity he had previously, missed, and shows him the

value of people, and of emotion. The narrator follows up on Bartleby at the old

office and jail, showing that he did indeed have more than just a passing


For the clients of these businessmen, I think that much

good is accomplished by their work. Whether we like them

or not, lawyers are essential members of society.

However, the story is told from the point of view of a

businessman, so more important is what the workers

themselves think of the business world. Indeed, by the

end of the story, the narrator realizes just what a

bleak existence he leads and how he has disconnected

himself with life outside of the business realm.

Unfortunately, after witnessing the downfall of

Bartleby, I think that the narrator reaches the point in

his life where he asks himself what the meaning of his

existence is.

I actually found the story to be one of the most

enjoyable works that we have read so far. I had no idea

that Melville could be so comical. For whatever reason,

the insistence of Bartleby in using the word "prefer"

and his fellow employees then using the word without

knowing it, I found to be extremely humorous. In my

view, the story has become popular for reasons other

than just being an entertaining read and providing a

unique perspective on the business world. I think that

many readers can identify with the struggles of the

characters in the story. In this information-driven

society, many of us are consumed with our work, meeting

deadlines, and being as productive as possible. Much

like the characters in the story, often times we feel

that our lives have been taken over by work.

This narrator is very reserved. He was selectful in choosing his jobs due to

his character. He wishes to not be put in a position which may become

confrontational. That is why he chose to never address the jury. He wants to

remain discreet and by doing so, he chooses to deal with mortgages, deeds and

bonds. I believe his association with Bartleby has changed this narrator.

Previously, he would have never permitted such conduct in his employee when

asked to due a particular task. He is a cautious individual whose method is to

think things out thoroughly before getting involved. Normally, he would not have

gotten involved with assisting Bartleby as he had attempted to do numerously.

Yet, he has grown respectful of Bartleby’s steadfast ways and continued his

attempts. The significance of the setting of the story is a mysterious one. The

names of the employees are not revealed nor is the number of the location. This

leads me to believe that perhaps this situation actually occurred and being as

discreet as this narrator is, he doesn’t reveal too much. This is a satire in

the business world because such conduct would not be tolerated. If employees

were to incessively "rather not" complete a task assigned by their

supervisor, they would be terminated. Moreover, it is not permissable for

employees to reside in their place of employment.

The narrator does well describing himself in the story. If you follow closely

he gives you many details which give you an upright description of self. He

calls himself, ?an umambitious lawyer… …with a profound conviction that

the easiest way of life is the best.? Others consider him an ?eminently safe

man? who seldom loses his temper. He is a conveyor and title hunter with an

office on Wall Street. He has a lot of compassion (perhaps not for society as a

whole) for Bartleby. I do not feel that the narrator truly ?changed? by his

association with Bartleby, but rather he changed only when he was around

Bartleby. It is difficult to say, considering the narrator does not offer any

experiences other than those which Bartleby is associated, but I will say that

the narrator has made no permanent change in his life. The setting of the story

is significant because Wall Street is comprised of all businesses, which means

that ?every night of everyday it is in emptiness.? Bartleby is content with

being secluded there. The setting is also significant considering the satirical

connotation of the business world. Bartleby is an intruder there, not because he

will not leave, but because he is rejects all aspects of business. And the fact

that he is content on being there, staring out the window, without lending the

slightest of his hands to work, shows how much he dislikes it.


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