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Free «Bartleby, the Scrivener» Essay Sample

Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" is a tale focusing on the staff of a Wall Street office engaged in preparation of legal documents. This tale of nineteenth century covers areas in the financial district of New York City as the reader identifies this through the narrator accounts that he traveled he "drove about the upper part of the town and through the suburbs, in my rockaway; crossed over to Jersey City and Hoboken, and paid fugitive visits to Manhattan Ville and Astoria" (Herman and Robert 37).

The tale by Melville illustrates a state of corporate discontent. In the tale, the reader gets to know poor state of the office where Bartleby, Nippers, Turkey and Ginger Nut work. The reader also notes that the landscape of the Wall Street is entirely unnatural coupled with cheerless and sterile work environment. In the tale, the reader observes the refusal by the management to address the plight and desperations of the workers. Later on, workers like Bartleby cease from engaging in their daily routines and turn to zombies dead to the happening around them ( ) From the tale, the reader observes that the narrator is more interested with reestablishing sanity to his office work that attempting to sanity to Bartleby.

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Melville's works discloses Bartleby's refusal to comply with orders as a reflection of resentment of exploited workers who were fighting and advocating for reforms through the nineteenth century. In the tale Bartleby is noted to have said "I prefer not to" work (Sharon 88).

West asserts that Melville's tale exposes the exploitation of worker where workers do the "mechanical work of producing copied words which themselves mechanically convert nature into property and profit" (p. 240). Exploitation of workers was a common phenomenon during the mid-nineteenth century where employers frequently got rich and creating handsome profits for themselves only to pay their workers meager salaries for working long hours.

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In Melville tale, the narrator seems to generate excellent profits in his office work yet he was tight-fisted in compensating his workers. In the tale, Nippers, who was less than half the age of Turkey's, likely received, even less money compared to Turkey while Bartleby probably made less than the Nippers and Turkey. Despite this, the narrator expected each of the scriveners to do agonizingly tiresome work checking the copies for accuracy.

William states that, in Melville's story, through the stubbornness of Bartleby, the narrator falls into a state of "fearful frustration, inaction and retreat" (43). The action of Bartleby to refuse his daily routines throws the narrator into a state of frustrations and thus makes him make his ineffectual comical threats. The narrator threaten that he is bound to quit the premises if Bartleby cannot quit. Later on, the tenant seeks help from the narrator to evict Bartleby who is later jailed a sign for him as he eventually considers himself free and independent.

Claudia reports that, "Bartleby, the Scrivener" represent a "specific examination of the dehumanization worker in a capitalistic" manner where the culture of business is driven by money and not values. From the tale, the reader can notice that the workers especially Bartleby are ignored and subject to difficult working environment. The mindless monotony of work further destroys the scriveners who get low wages. From the psychological strain on the work, the tales disclose the fact that the workers are sacrificed for materialistic values of the system they work for.

Elizabeth et al in their book Melvin and women examine "Bartleby, the Scrivener" with concern arising from "class inequalities" and the prevalence of "wage slavery" entrenched in the capitalistic production. This tale by Melville is therefore a reflection of nature of slavery and dependence that the American workers had (82) where they pain and agony made the supported the economies while their remunerations were meager.


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