Bartleby The Scrivener Essay Essay, Research Paper
Bartleby the Scrivener Essay
“Bartleby the Scrivener” is a short story written by Herman Melville. The plot is based on the character Bartleby, an office worker who decides to stop doing his work. Bartleby is thrown in prison because he does not adapt to society’s expectations. It is in prison where he dies a lonely man. The Story of “Bartleby the Scrivener” can be interpreted from a social, psychological and moral standpoint.
Bartleby teaches many lessons which are learned through his social status situation in the story. The main theme in this short story is that it is extremely hard to go against the grain in society especially during the middle 1800’s. This becomes a major dilemma for Bartleby as he wards off everyday occurrences such as going to work. Bartleby is sent to prison and this becomes very hard for him because in his mind the only crime he has committed is being human. Another problem that haunts Bartleby is loneliness. By deciding not to work, he isolated himself from society just as much as society isolated themselves from Bartleby.
Many readers interpret “Bartleby the Scrivener” from a psychological mindset. The short story is very vague as to the mental stability of Bartleby. It is necessary read between the lines to understand how lonely and ‘down in the dumps’ Bartleby is. Bartleby’s aura has a psychological affect on his co-workers in his office as well. Bartleby’s co-workers experience both distraction and frustration because of Bartleby’s
neglecting of his work. Bartleby becomes isolated by his co-workers because of his non-conforming ways.
“Bartleby the Scrivener” can also be looked at from a moral point of view. Melville pushed a Calvinistic work mindset which says that it is a person’s duty to work diligently for one’s boss. An employee is given a certain amount of work to do in a certain amount of time and it is the worker’s obligation to get the work done. Bartleby goes against these views which is society lives by when he stops working. He is looked down upon by
his community because of his neglect of these morals.
It is important to look for social, psychological and moral points when reading “Bartleby the Scrivener”. The social standpoint of the story is man’s fight between society and individualism. The psychological standpoint points out Bartleby’s loneliness and lack of self assurance. The moral standpoint says that in order to strive in Bartleby’s society you must work hard.