The narrator of this tale of corporate discontent is an elderly lawyer who runs a profitable business handling the official financial paperwork of wealthy men. He hires Bartleby, a dispirited-looking notary, as an additional member of his staff. One day Bartleby is asked to proofread one of the documents he copied to which he simply replies that ...
The narrator of this tale of corporate discontent is an elderly lawyer who runs a profitable business handling the official financial paperwork of wealthy men. He hires Bartleby, a dispirited-looking notary, as an additional member of his staff. One day Bartleby is asked to proofread one of the documents he copied to which he simply replies that he would prefer not to. This is only the first of many refusals to the narrator's dismay and the disapproval of the other employees. Bartleby continues to participate less and less in the office work. The narrator makes many efforts to deal with him, but Bartleby refuses to perform his duties. Soon he is not working at all, and since the narrator cannot get him to leave, he moves his offices to a new location to avoid a wasted reputation. But Bartleby takes up a kind of residence at the old place, and the new tenants ask for the narrator's help. When Bartleby is forced out of the offices, he roams the hallways. The narrator makes one final attempt to reason with him, but Bartleby rejects him. The narrator is away from work a few days, and when he returns he discovers that Bartleby has been put in prison. The narrator visits him there, finding him more sullen than usual. He bribes a guard to make sure he is well fed. The narrator returns a few days later to learn that Bartleby has died, having preferred not to eat. This well-written treatment has made Bartleby one of literature's most forsaken characters, illustrating life's tiring and rigorous process, full of deadening compromises and obedience to inconsequential labor
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