“Bartleby, The Scrivener” Essay

660 words - 3 pages

In the short story “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” which was written by Herman Melville, the character named Bartleby is a very odd, yet interesting individual. In the story, Bartleby is introduced when he responds to a job opening at the narrator’s office. Although there is no background information given about him, it becomes very apparent that he will be the antagonist in this story. Unlike the usual image put on the antagonist, Bartleby causes conflict with a very quiet and calm temperament. This character’s attitude, along with the fact that he is a flat and static character, makes him a very unique antagonist, and this fact is shown through the way other characters approach and deal with his conflict.
Through Bartleby’s flat and static character type, it is amazing how many different types of conflict he causes. From the first order to examine the law copies, to the last request to dine in the prison, Bartleby’s conflictive reply of “I would prefer not to” stays the same (Melville 150). In this way, he is a very simple character, yet he is still very hard to truly understand. Even as the story progresses and different people come into contact with Bartleby, he remains unchanged. The narrator repeatedly states that “Bartleby did nothing but stand at his window in his dead-wall revery” (Melville 158). This is yet another way that Bartleby’s static character, along with his flat nature, is shown. Throughout the story, peaceful, calm, and quiet are three words that can adequately describe this character. Contrastingly, the other characters’ thoughts and actions toward him change repeatedly in the short period of time.
Looking at the very first time Bartleby refuses to examine the copies, the reader might think that the narrator is going to dislike him very much, but this is not true at all. When the narrator first hears the refusal, he comes to anger very quickly. He is baffled at Bartleby’s response and proceeds to ask his...

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