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Herman Melville's Bartlevy, The Scrivener Essay

1286 words - 6 pages

“Bartleby, the Scrivener”, is both intriguing and complex. This short story written in the first person sense by Herman Melville, introduces the character of a no-name lawyer who serves as the narrator of the story. This lawyer is perplexed by an employed scrivener working in his office named, Bartleby. It is interesting to look at the relationship that the lawyer has to Bartleby both psychologically and emotionally.
While the narrator seems unsuccessful in understanding the importance of the different aspects of his other employees lives, he appears to connect to Bartleby on some levels and succeeds in accurately conveying the environment, emotions and actions throughout his story. This in time leads to several notable similarities between the lawyer and the scrivener, Bartleby.
On the surface one may not realize the similarities of the characters in this story, but it is those similarities that the main characters have to one another that make the story interesting. Furthermore one can speculate that the lawyer that Melville has as the narrator for the story, is in character with Melville himself. The characters of Nippers and Turkey were similar in that they worked in the same office and had similar traits that the narrator did not admire. Comparisons of Nippers and Turkey can be seen in that their productivity basically is a mirror image of each other, with Turkey being productive in the morning and Nippers being useless. In the afternoon it is said that while Nippers is productive, Turkey is drunk. The narrator thought them to be lazy and unmotivated. However, it is the relationship of the new employee Bartleby, to his lawyer employer that we will compare.
Upon his first coming to work for the lawyer, Bartleby appeared hard working and diligent, but soon became comfortable with the situation and took advantage of it. The narrator sees a lot of his own character traits in the life of Bartleby. In a careful analysis of this story, Melville is thorough in his ability to paint a picture with his use of imagery to show that these two characters lacked a real purpose or significance in their lives. Both individuals felt that their lives were void of anything really meaningful. The reader sees the gullibility of the lawyer in a sort of co-dependent relationship with Bartleby.
Parallels of the character, personality and life style of these two individuals show how Bartleby is a direct representation of the narrator. Bartleby is a type of literary doubling or doppelganger to the lawyer. Doppelganger is often defined as a twin, shadow or a mirror image of a protagonist (Bovatasan). Doubling or this type of doppelganger by this definition is a reoccurring theme throughout this work. The reader begins to see that Bartleby is really a projection of the narrator himself. As a sort of psychological extension of the narrator, Bartleby becomes linked to the narrator so much so, that the fate of Bartley becomes the lawyer’s self-worth.

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