Bartleby the Scrivener

Bartleby, the Scrivener

By the end of "Bartleby, the Scrivener," what does the reader know for certain about Bartleby? Why do you think Melville provides so little explicit information about this character?

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The pale and forlorn scrivener, or legal copyist. Bartleby is incredibly passive, quiet, never becoming angry. But he is also unyielding. Life itself is pointless to him, and he cannot pretend enthusiasm for it. His trademark sentence, "I would prefer not to," marks his continuing disengagement from the world. Each time Bartleby utters it, he is refusing not only a task, but one of the rituals that make up a normal life. He ends by "preferring not to" eat, which kills him. It is this disengagement that Melville wants the reader to explore. There are pieces of this character that the author wants the reader to put together and analyze through their own lens.