Bartleby the Scrivener Short Summary
In this book, Herman Melville uses a lawyer as the narrator. The successful Wall Street lawyer hires many scriveners to assist him in his office work. Out of all these people, he finds Bartleby as the most interesting. He employs him to replace the other scriveners who seem to have limitations in their work. The first scrivener is called Turkey, a 60-year old who is effective in the morning but lacks focus in the afternoon. On the other hand, Nippers, the 25-year old, finds it hard to work in the morning but is more active in the afternoon.
With Bartleby’s calm demeanor, the lawyer believes he can perform better in the job. At first, Bartleby proves he is exactly what the lawyer needed. He is hardworking and committed to the job. However, he soon begins to show signs to the contrary. First, he does not want to proofread the documents. Finally, Bartleby does not want to do any copy work. Instead of working, he focuses his view outside, looking at a blank wall.
The lawyer assumes that maybe Bartleby works too hard and gives him time to relax. Later Bartleby refuses to leave when fired. The tenant who comes to the office after the lawyer vacates it sues the lawyer for Bartleby’s eccentricities. In a bid to escape responsibility, the lawyer disappears for a while. On his return, he discovers the arrest of Bartleby who had been transferred to the tombs.
When the lawyer pays a visit to Bartleby out of compassion, he finds him restrained. After several visits, he finally finds Bartleby dead. He finds the diseased employee peculiar. Besides, he feels guilty for Bartleby’s death. He pities Bartleby and the general state of the humankind. That is where the story ends.