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A short story "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" by Herman Melville takes place in New York at the end of the 19th century. The narrator tells the story of the strangest scrivener he has ever seen, Bartleby (Melville 1). The narrator is a lawyer, who owns the office on the Wall Street and describes himself as a peaceful and tolerable person. He hires Bartleby, neat, presentable, but hapless man to work for him (Melville 15).
Bartleby was good and accurate worker at first, but he turned out to be the person of one fraise, “I would prefer not to” do almost everything, including his work tasks, going home after work and eating (Melville 22). In my opinion, these changes have happened to him after several scenes when lawyer was telling what he wanted from Bartleby, without asking what his worker wanted to do. This might be normal in regular relationship of this kind, but not for Bartleby. His previous work at the dead letters office, where he had to perform useless tasks, has probably caused the loss of motivation to work and live at all. Bartleby was isolated from the society with both visible and invisible walls. Together with isolation he has got own idea of life and kind of freedom to do whatever he felt like doing, even doing nothing. For a long time no one cared for him and usual approaches didn’t work for him as well. After analyzing the existing situation, it becomes obvious to me that Bartleby’s respond sounded like calm but firm protest against commandments of the society.
Herman Melville’s short story puts forward a lot of moral issues, but doesn’t give clear solutions. During the story, the narrator tortures between his sense of compassion and responsibility for Bartleby and the wish to get rid of him, due to the danger that Bartleby represents to the office and narrator’s usual way of life. To my mind, the example of relationship between narrator and protagonist the author showed that, usually, when something doesn’t fit in the way some social structure is organized it should be removed or destroyed, despite of one’s needs or feelings.