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Intro Topic: Herman Melville s piece, Bartleby the Scrivener , opens with the narration of an elderly lawyer, whose name is never actually revealed, to mid-nineteenth cent ury Wall-Street, New York. 1. Lawyer - Name: His name is never actually revealed, similar to the way that Bartleby is neither ever identified as Bartleby s firs t or last name. Whereas the Lawyer is just the- a lawyerBartleby is also just that- Bartleby. - Physical Appearance: * I am a rather elderly man (1) * Little else is told of the way he looks, but he tells that he is lazy and he eats a lot of gingernuts - Actions: * the easiest way of life is the best (3) * I am one of those unambitious lawyers (3) * Contrasts well with Bartleby s (at first) dilige nt work ethic * Holds consummate power over his other employees, who a ct without questioning him * Bartleby is the first to break this, however h e does so passively 2. Lawyer s Employee s - Names: Turkey, Nipper, and Ginger Nut - Physical Appearance: Turkey and Nippers serve as foils (in app earance and in action) to each other * Old vs. young, lazy vs. ambitious, hard worker in morn ing vs. night * Ginger Nut is very young - Actions: * All three are submissive and unquestioning to the Lawy er, unlike Bartleby who will not do anything outside of his job description * Bartleby is not talkative, as are the others * Even though the others are lazy, the Lawyer seems to l ike them more 3. Bartleby - Name: Only his first name is given - Physical Appearance: * pallidly neat, pitiable respectable, incurably forlorn. 15) - Actions: * I would prefer not to. * Works in silence, does only his job, is completely dif ferent in manner from the others in the office Thesis: Herman Melville, in his short story Bartleby the Scrivener , uses other ch aracters names, physical appearances, and actions in comparison the Lawyer s confou nding employee, Bartleby, as a way of creating a rich, clear picture of his scri vener. 2. Turkey, Nippers and Ginger Nut s Significance to Bartleby
Topic: Turkey and Nippers serve as foils to each other. -Turkey: His description is significantly longer than that of Nippers -Nippers: * Unnecessary maledictions, hissed, rather than spoken, in the he at of business (11) * always dressed in a gentlemanly sort of way (11) -Ginger Nut: * 12 Years old * His father was ambitious of a cart (14) 3. Lawyer s Significance to Bartleby Topic: The Lawyer describes Bartleby and Bartleby s time in the office through his own point of view, and so the description of him is skewed. Bartleby s good quali ties- hard working, quiet, talented- are viewed as being irritating of disruptiv e. * I should have been quite delighted with his application, had he been carefully industrious. But he wrote on sil ently, palely, mechanically. (18) * The Lawyer often takes on a tone of disappointment in Bartleby - He puts Bartleby s desk in the same room as him, And thus, in a manner, privacy and society were conjoined (17) * Thus, Melville not only gives the Lawyer constant access to Ba rtleby, but gives myriad opportunities to compare the two - Bartleby s quiet and diligent ways are compared with the Lawyer s laziness - Makes many Biblical references * pillar of salt, councilors and the kings etc. 4. Bartleby in the Beginning - He says I would prefer not to and the Lawyer is stunned (consternation, stunned faculties, etc.) (25) * Not fact checking for the Lawyer proves that Bartleby is eithe r single-minded, or just singularly talented. One can inf er that he is possibly illiterate or uneducated, and by politely declining his offer, Bartleby avoids attention - There was something about Bartleby that not only strangely disarmed me, but in a wonderful manner touched and disconcerted me. (35) * Bartleby s passivism leads the Lawyer to want to reason with him at first * Although the lawyer thinks that brow beating him will make him w aiver, he does not (40) -The lawyer observes that Bartleby eat nothing but gingernuts, and follo ws the his reasoning of the effect of this: * Was Bartleby hot and spicy? Not at all Probably he preferred it s hould have none. (52) - Nothing so aggravates a person as a passive resistance (53) - The others in the office begin to imitate him inadvertently - Lawyer notices he was always there (84) 5. Bartleby After He Breaks
of seeing his son on the bench instead
I remembered the bright silks and sparkling faces I had seen that day an d I contrasted them with the pallid copyist (89) - It affects everyone- the lawyer s attitude changes - He decides to stop writing - Will not leave when fired *exercising free will -Starves himself and dies 6. Significance of the Last Section - The reader finally finds out that he had worked at the dead letter off ice 7. Conclusion