Bartleby the Scrivener: Lawyer Double Essay

Bartleby the Scrivener: Lawyer Double Essay

Length: 1071 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Good Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Bartleby the Scrivener, by Herman Melville is a novella about a nameless lawyer who has in his employ a scrivener named Bartleby. Bartleby, throughout the novella, has different periods of work. In the beginning, he does his scrivening without reprimand or without hesitation, but as the novella progresses his attitude toward work changes drastically. Mordecai Marcus’ critical essay on the novella makes some good points, such that Bartleby is a psychological double for the lawyer, he represents a subliminal death drive within himself, and the conflict between absolutism and free will. All three of these points are attributed to Bartleby because he represents each respectively.
In Mordecai Marcus’ critical essay on Bartleby the Scrivener, he takes the stand that Bartleby is a psychological double for the nameless lawyer. While progressing through the novella, Bartleby begins to slow down and eventually stops working altogether. The Lawyer doesn’t know what to do mainly because, “Bartleby’s power over the lawyer quickly grows as the story progresses.” (Marcus 1) When the lawyer first hired Bartleby, he was a tenacious young worker, “There was no pause for digestion. He ran a day and night line, copying by sunlight and by candlelight.” (Melville 16) This is in the beginning of the novella right after the lawyer had hired him. Bartleby, to the lawyer, doesn’t seem to have any other ambitions rather than scrivening for him. But all of that begins to change when Bartleby begins to not want to do some of the tasks the lawyer asks him to do. The first instance of this is when he is asked to proofread one of the copies he just completed, “…rapidly stating what it was I wanted him to do – namely, to examine a small paper with me…Bartleb...


... middle of paper ...


...ast. But again obeying that wondrous ascendancy which the inscrutable scrivener had over me…” (Melville 44) Again, the lawyer is amazed at the amount of “power” Bartleby has over him. Bartleby, without actually doing anything, has taken away most of the lawyers’ free will and in turn feed his own absolutism.
The novella is set in New York City in a Wall Street law office; both Bartleby and the lawyer represent characters of New York. Bartleby represents a type of person who is excited to come to a new city but then gets ground down into the daily routine of the city and begins to loose the will to work. The lawyer, on the other hand, represents the quintessential New Yorker, owning his own business and trying to succeed in a city that is famous for crushing spirits. Both Bartleby and the lawyer represent true characters within the fabric of the city of New York.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville Essay

- In this paper I analyzed the novel "Bartleby the Scrivener" written by Herman Melville. My goal is to answer the question about the power of words and the readers interpretation of them. I appraoched the research using the article of Roland Barthes "Textual Anlysis of Tale of Poe." The proposed method of analysis is good but it works only with small texts. In this case the text is a small tale, but is full of meaningful moments that merrit to be decoded. If using the method for longer texts, the analysis would transform into a long research that may loose connections between meanings of words and expressions....   [tags: chronological code, social code]

Good Essays
566 words (1.6 pages)

Essay about Herman Melville's Bartlevy, the Scrivener

- “Bartleby, the Scrivener”, is both intriguing and complex. This short story written in the first person sense by Herman Melville, introduces the character of a no-name lawyer who serves as the narrator of the story. This lawyer is perplexed by an employed scrivener working in his office named, Bartleby. It is interesting to look at the relationship that the lawyer has to Bartleby both psychologically and emotionally. While the narrator seems unsuccessful in understanding the importance of the different aspects of his other employees lives, he appears to connect to Bartleby on some levels and succeeds in accurately conveying the environment, emotions and actions throughout his story....   [tags: literary analysis]

Good Essays
1074 words (3.1 pages)

batleby the scrivener Essay

- "Bartleby the Scrivener" is a complex story, so I am going to zero in on one particularly interesting and intelligent aspect of it. Due to the power of the message even this one particular aspect will be complex, of course. The first thing to note is that the story has a first-person narrator. The narrator, an anonymous lawyer, is in fact a major character in his own right. Ostensibly the story is about Bartleby and his actions as a scrivener. However, what the story is really about, in a sense, is the effect Bartleby seems to have on the narrator....   [tags: essays research papers]

Good Essays
1753 words (5 pages)

The Lawyer and the Pandhandler in "Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville

- In the story of Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville, there is a lawyer who narrates the entire story. He owns his own law practice and also has an assortment of scribes who work for him. The first scrivener, named Turkey, was a hard worker until 12 o’ clock noon daily. Following that time, his work begins to diminish. The second, who they called Nippers, was the complete opposite. He worked best during the afternoon and evening hours. Lastly, Bartleby didn’t do much work at all. He was lazy, he had nothing to lose, and he understood how to take advantage of someone else’s kindness....   [tags: Bartleby the Scrivener. Herman Melville, employees]

Good Essays
528 words (1.5 pages)

Essay about Bartleby, the Villain in Bartleby, the Scrivener

- Bartleby, the Villian in Bartleby, the Scrivener            Herman Melville's short story, "Bartleby, the Scrivener," poses many moral questions, but refuses to answer them nicely and neatly. Unfortunately, Melville's ambiguities have lead to some unusual interpretations concerning the ethics of the unnamed lawyer who narrates the story.  While it may seem perfectly obvious to most of us that he goes out of his way to be sensitive to Bartleby's needs, beginning with the narrator's allowing him to refrain from certain duties, to refraining from all his duties, to letting him make his office his lodgings, to offering him beyond what he owes Bartleby and securing him another position, to eve...   [tags: Bartleby Scrivener Essays]

Good Essays
2870 words (8.2 pages)

Imperefct Charity in Bartleby, the Scrivener Essay

- One typically displays acts of charity for the love of mankind or benefit of society. However, differentiating whether a generous deed reflects altruistic behavior or selfishness can be difficult. In Herman Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener," the lawyer performs charitable conduct toward Bartleby to acquire self-approval and an honorable conscience. The lawyer employs Bartleby, a lifeless man, as a copyist for his law firm. In the beginning of his employment, Bartleby works efficiently. However, Bartleby soon begins to deny the tasks assigned to him with the statement, "I would prefer not to" (1184)....   [tags: Bartleby, the Scrivener]

Good Essays
527 words (1.5 pages)

The Softhearted Humanity of Bartleby the Scrivener Essay

- The Softhearted Humanity of Bartleby the Scrivener What is to be said or done about the many "Bartlebys" of the world?  They come in many shapes and sizes, and are misunderstood and boggled about for different reasons, but they all trigger a sense of softhearted humanity in all they touch.  Herman Melville's Bartleby lets the reader make what they please concerning the baffling scrivener who, quite simply stated throughout the story, "would prefer not to" do just about anything.  Yet his employer just can not seem to get angry, for Bartleby does not refuse to work, he simply, and seemingly sadly, states that he would rather not perform his instructed duties.  He does not say...   [tags: Bartleby Scrivener Essays]

Good Essays
925 words (2.6 pages)

Isolation and Society in Bartleby, the Scrivener Essay

- Isolation and Society in Bartleby, the Scrivener Herman Melville's Bartleby is a tale of isolation and alienation. In his story, society is primarily to blame for the creation and demise of Bartleby. Throughout the story, the characters -- Bartleby in particular -- are isolated from each other or from society. The forester's office, which can be interpreted as a microcosm of society, was teeming with walls to separate the head ranger from his employees and to separate the employees from one another....   [tags: Bartleby Scrivener Essays]

Good Essays
618 words (1.8 pages)

The Uncompromising Code of Bartleby the Scrivener Essay

- The Uncompromising Code of Bartleby the Scrivener      There are certain social codes that we are expected to follow. They are too numerous and obscure to know-but for the most part, they don't need to be known. The unspoken, unwritten set of rules we are obligated to live by are subtly imbued in us from birth. When we live outside those boundaries and follow our own desires, we are walking on thin ice. An eccentric choice in wardrobe or unusual habits can make the difference between being considered an individual who "thinks outside of the box," or just a plain old lunatic....   [tags: Bartleby Scrivener Essays]

Good Essays
1666 words (4.8 pages)

Essay on Bartleby, the Scrivener

- Bartleby, the Scrivener Bartleby, the Scrivener was a most interesting story. The characters were very interesting to the intuitive reader. The narrator is an interesting man who is difficult to completely understand. The narrator's thoughts seem unclear even to himself. The narrator seems to have a sincere wish to help Bartleby in whatever way he can. His sincerity, though, is questionable. Every time the narrator tries to assist Bartleby, he seems to do it only to gratify himself....   [tags: Bartleby Scrivener Essays]

Free Essays
617 words (1.8 pages)