In every workplace, employees do what is in their job description. Rarely there are workers who get away without performing their duties. Bartleby, however, gets away with it. In Herman Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener", there is one character that refuses to do his work and yet he is the main concern of his boss. His boss, an attorney and the narrator of the story, isn't concerned with firing Bartleby but instead is aroused with his actions. "Bartleby, the Scrivener" can illustrate misfortune, growing compassion and a similarity to God.
Bartleby is a man who is in charge of his own life by having a free will and living a life of preference. His infamous line "I prefer not to" appears in the story numerous times. His choice of preference leads to the downfall of his life. Bartleby made several crucial mistakes that lead to his downfall. His first mistake was when the attorney asked him to make copies and run errands for him and Bartleby preferred not to do so. "At this early stage of his attempt to act by his preferences, Bartleby has done nothing more serious than break the ground rules of the attorney's office by avoiding duties the attorney is accustomed to having his scriveners perform" (Patrick 45). An employee is also supposed to do tasks in the job description and when these tasks are not accomplished or done correctly, not once but several times, it usually leads to termination. Bartleby is a rare case because he does not get fired. This in turn results in his second mistake. Since he was able to get away with not doing anything, Bartleby opted to take the next step and quit his job or in his own words, "give up copying" (Melville 2345). Quitting caused him to have more troubles than he had before. Bartleby then refused to leave the premises which gave the attorney no choice but to move. Even upon moving, Bartleby stayed in the building but was soon evicted and then put in jail for failure to leave the premises. In jail his final preference leads him to death. He refuses to eat and therefore caused him to die.
"Now we come to a crucial question. Does the narrator's encounter with Bartleby
bring him to a state of increased awareness? Does Bartleby, in other words, make a better man out of the narrator" (Emery 185)? Bartleby had a purpose in the attorney's life. He made the attorney open up his heart to society. In the opening of the story, Bartleby was nothing but an employee, belonging, to the narrator. Getting to know Bartleby more had intrigued him because he wasn't like his other employees, whom he seemed to know like clockwork. When Bartleby refused to do his work the attorney didn't raise a...