Count Bartleby Character Analysis Essay

Count Bartleby Character Analysis Essay

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Bartleby is a strange man. The narrator refers to Bartleby as a “pale” man many times in “Bartleby the Scrivener”: “that pale young scrivener, by the name of Bartleby” (par. 83). Melville’s story was published in 1853 and he alludes to Bartleby having an essence that is not human, and that essence is of a vampire. Bartleby is not a traditional vampire, having no desire to kill humans for his insatiable need for blood. A traditional vampire has certain characteristics: pale, dead, clean, glamour#, and neat. They also drink blood, require no sleep, are in good health, and often keep to themselves. In the story, Melville depicts The Scrivener as an awkward human being, but Bartleby is not human. Through subtle cues given by Melville throughout the story, Bartleby must be a vampire.
Bartleby’s appearance is congruent with the physical characteristics of a vampire. The Scrivener is described as having gray eyes, pale face, small build, never ill, does not eat, and does not move outside of the narrators office: “I was quite sure he never visited any refectory or eating house” (par. 92). Bartleby was never seen eating food. He was seen eating ginger nuts, but never anything else. Vampires can eat food that humans do, but they ordinarily only require human blood. Although food does not hurt vampires, they can eat food if they so desire; it does not give them the nutrients that are needed to survive. No one in the story ever saw Bartleby eat or drink anything besides ginger nuts, which means that he does not require food, but something more nutritious. He could have possibly desired human blood.
The Scrivener’s attributes shine through in some of the narrators comments: “[…] pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn!” (pa...


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...e able to feed from any human because of the constant surveillance by guards, and knew that eventually he would meet his death there. The Scrivener completed his mission by not procuring the blood necessary to keep him alive. Bartleby knew well that he would not be able to feed, and consciously moved to the Egyptian masonry, where “The yard was entirely quiet [and] it was not accessible to the common prisoners” because he knew he was near his death. He wanted to die in peace and not allow anyone to get through into the masonry who might hinder his task.
Bartleby is clearly given attributes that are not human. Many of the characteristics given by Melville to Bartleby coincide with the most recognizable vampire attributes. As depicted many times in the story, Bartleby is a “pale” man. Bartleby is also never seen eating food, and he is never seen sleeping on a bed.

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