What does it mean when the narrator says that Bartleby sleeps "with kings and counselors"?
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Many critics view this story as having an anti-Wall Street kind of theme. At the end of the story at Bartleby's death, he has moved "up" to an equal level with these figures that we normally associate as noble or aristocratic. The underlying message is that we are all ultimately cut from the same cloth and have the same worth.
It is a quote from the Old Testament Bible book of Job. Job chapter 3. In the King James Version of the Bible, verses 13 through 16:
"13 For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept; then would I have been at rest
14 with kings and counselors of the earth, who built desolate places for themselves,
15 or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver;
16 or as a hidden untimely birth I would not have been, as infants who never saw light."
In the New International Version of the Bible, verses 13 through 15:
"13 For now I would be lying down in peace;
I would be asleep and at rest
14 with kings and rulers of the earth,
who built for themselves places now lying in ruins,
15 with princes who had gold,
who filled their houses with silver."
In the book of Job, in these verses above quoted, Job laments that he was ever born, he has so many troubles in his life, he says he would have been better never to have been born, or to have been stillborn and buried, as all the dead are, from 'Counselors and Kings', to the poorest of the poor, in a quiet and peaceful grave.
Bartleby was presented as poor and pathetic character here. He was isolated not from every job he offered but from every ritual of living. In contrary, the Kings and Counselors represents the elite class of society. There role to the society is opposite than the protagonist. They verily connected with the society and social conventions unlike Bartleby. But after death all of them got same place and manner. The narrator was really curious and affectionate about the poor Birtleby. Perhaps from that affection the narrator uttered such renowned personage.