Bartleby the Scrivener





Bartleby the Scrivener

The essence of this short story is to bring out the different socio-groups or characters that exist in our surroundings. The short story has five characters, the narrator, Turkey, Nippers, Ginger Nut, and Bartleby to represent the different groups. The narrator is a typical individual who tries to live on the easiest means as he is described as a “safe man.” The narrator is the type to conserve a union rather than go to war for ideological reasons, he does not want to take any risks thus he is the unambitious lawyer. Turkey is described by the narrator as short, pursy, self indulgent and English. Turkey is described a man whose propensity harmed because it made him insolent, this insinuates that he was corrupt and obtained wealth illegally. “In the morning… his face was of a fine florid hue, but after twelve o’clock… it blazed like a grate full of Christmas coals, here the narrator finds the services of Turkey useful in the morning and not useful in the afternoon, this represents different historical periods where people become old (Melville, 1980).

Nippers is “a whiskered, sallow, and, upon the whole, rather piratical-looking young man of about five and twenty.”  This is description of an ambitious person compared to the narrator who lives safe. Nippers is economically efficient, this is represented by his “neat, swift hand.” Nippers mood shifts are contrary to that of Turkey’s; he has a certain “irritability and consequent nervousness” in the morning “while in the afternoon he is comparatively mild.” Nippers is 25 years old compared to Turkey and the narrator who are old. He represents the rising young age (Melville, 1980).

Bartleby came to work for the narrator “in answer to advertisement” that he must “have additional help.”  This is a representative of people migrating from one region to another for employment.  Bartleby is able to perform certain tasks “an extra ordinary quantity of writing”. When asked to “verify the accuracy of his copy, word by word”, he says he prefer not to, this represents a representing an immigrant wage laborer. Ginger nut is the youngest of all the characters with a longer and brighter future ahead. The narrator refers to Ginger nut as “witted youth for whom the whole noble science of law was contained in a nut shell,” this shows how intelligence is recognized (Melville, 1980).

The characters portrayed in the book have changed so much especially that of the aged like Turkey who is buoyant in their prime years and their services are required but as time passes by their services are no longer required but those of the young lads such as Ginger nuts are the ones required. Every office has a typical character just as the ones in Bartleby the Scrivener. There are those who play safe so that they cannot be fired or lose their jobs, there are the young ones who are ambitious to climb to the top, there are those whose useful time is over due to their old age. An important character left out was a character that is passive rather than active in his job because others are promoted while he is stagnant in the same position over years. This character is closely related to the narrator.


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