Bartleby the Scrivener

sympathy for bartleby

How does Melville arouse sympathy for Bartleby?

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He makes Bartleby a pathetic figure. He has no home, he has moved into the office. He has no friends or relatives thar care about him. Melville also makes sure that Bartleby does not come across as rude or belligerent, hence the famous " I would prefer not to," line. He does not throw a tantrum or demand anything, he quietly states his case. His previous position at the Dead Letter's Office also generates sympathy, as this was a most depressing place. Finally the last images of Bartleby as a dying man that has basically just wasted away since he lost the will to live is heart-rending as well.