Bartelby Essay, Research Paper
In the working community there is no time to do anything that isn?t work related. There is nothing more required from you other than to be obedient to your boss and to work efficiently so the company can do well. According to one of Benjamin Franklin?s thirteen virtues of industry, he said that one should: ?Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut of all unnecessary actions.? Hard work and dedication pays off when you are trying to advance to a higher level. However, there are some people in the industry that do just the minimum work that is required and nothing more because they see no advancement in their career. In the industrial society there is some sort of clash between the work being preformed and how the person works. In the novel Bartleby, the main character demonstrated virtues similar to those of Franklin; but, soon digressed to a being who lost his soul as he worked.
In the beginning, Bartleby worked accordingly to Franklin?s virtues. He worked by sunlight and candlelight showing no sign of slowing down. However, these actions were short-lived. Bartleby soon showed no interest in his job anymore. He ?preferred? not to do the things that his boss told him to. Bartleby only answered when he was spoken to and he kept to himself throughout the whole story. The narrator recalled how he never left the office for any reason and how he never read. ?…yet I had never seen him reading-no, not even a newspaper;…? (124). The significance of the newspaper is to tell the reader that Bartleby is no longer a part of society. The news happening around him doesn?t concern him anymore. The narrator tried to find out more about Bartleby but failed. He simply replied that he preferred not to answer any of his questions. His actions were like that of a robot. He answered without thinking about what was asked.
Bartleby worked in a little office with a small window offering no view at all. ?…a window which originally had afforded a lateral view of certain grimy back yards and bricks, but which, owing to subsequent erections, commanded at present no view at all, though it gave some light.? (114). The view outside the window can be compared with Bartleby?s personality. His life was as dull and lifeless as the bricks outside his window. It is implied that when Bartleby stared at the walls that he related to it being dull and lifeless and having no meaning in life. If one looked at Bartleby, one would see emptiness about him.
Towards the end of the story, the narrator finds out that Bartleby previously worked at a Dead Letter Office in Washington. The word ?dead? gives the reader a sense of a dark and gloomy place where people with no soul end up. This is where all the undeliverable mail goes. The people who worked in this office were the ones who lost their souls to work. The mail represents the people who have no role in society and are pretty much useless. This environment in which Bartleby worked played an important part in his characteristics while working for the narrator. He learned in the Dead Letter Office that there is nothing to look forward to if he kept working. The work that he was doing was a waste of time for him so he stopped it completely.
The narrator had no other choice other than to fire him, but Bartleby refused to leave. He tried to help Bartleby on several occasions but by that point anything that was said to him didn?t register. Since the narrator saw there was no way he could help him, he moved his business elsewhere leaving Bartleby behind. Bartleby continued to stay on the premises until the new owners of the building had him sent to jail. There, Bartleby continued a lifestyle of doing nothing and refusing to eat. He eventually died lying next to a wall with his head leaning against the stones.
The fictional character Bartleby represents the working class in the industrial society. It is an exaggeration of what happens to someone if they don?t employ themselves in something useful, like Ben Franklin did. Bartleby followed Ben Franklin?s virtues in the beginning and impressed his boss but the environment of the Dead Letter Office came back to haunt him in the workplace.