Bartleby the Scrivener

What is the author's purpose in writing this story?

what is the author's purpose in writing the story Bartleby?

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In many ways, "Bartleby" is the one of the first stories of corporate discontent. Melville was a child of New York City, and the story unfolds on Wall Street. The scriveners are part of the machinery of modern industry and commerce; they are educated men who do tedious work. "Part of the machinery" seems an apt description of their work: later the services they performed were done by machines. In this world, where a man does his work, earns his pay, and goes on and on until he dies, Bartleby is a freak and an outcast. He is a profoundly depressed and lonely man, who seems completely unable to find work that will satisfy him. Life itself is weary to him. He cannot find a place in the world, and so he dies.

His employer, an elderly lawyer who goes unnamed, tries but fails to connect with Bartleby. Somehow, he is able to empathize with the strange scrivener, but help him he cannot (or will not). At the end of the tale, one of the questions of the story concerns their relationship: did the narrator fail Bartleby? If he did, was the failure avoidable? How responsible is one man for the salvation of another? Even more disturbing, one wonders if Bartleby is not the only one who is doomed. The world that plunged him into gloom is seen in a new light, and the narrator and his employees, who have adapted to this world, seem diminished by their numbness to it.