Bartleby the Scrivener

Ah Humanity!: The Evolution of Attitude in "Bartelby, the Scrivener" 12th Grade

"Bartleby, the Scrivener" by Herman Melville is the story of a scrivener (a copyist) who has an unusually bleak disposition. Eventually, he takes it upon himself to refuse his boss' (the narrator's) requests for completing the very work for which he was hired. The story, in and of itself, is of a very interesting premise, but arguably even more interesting is the narrator's attitude toward Bartleby and how it changes multiple times. The narrator's attitude about Bartleby in "Bartleby, the Scrivener" changes throughout the story from one of glad approval to one of intensely curious pity to one of bleak sorrow.

Upon first meeting Bartleby, the narrator's opinion of him is that Bartleby is a tacit, though reliable young man; the narrator approves of him, albeit slightly grudgingly. The narrator notes that Bartleby not only does his work but does it without assistance: "At first Bartleby did an extraordinary quantity of writing. As if long famishing for something to copy, he seemed to gorge himself on my documents." As such, the narrator's business and its expediency are notably improved over before the presence of Bartleby, when the narrator had to deal with the fineries and...

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