After by the public on what the correct

Afterthe commercial failure of Melville’s MobyDick publication in 1851 he was depressed.

As a result, he turned towriting that was more marketable and started to write short stories. Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story ofWall-street, 1853 was one of his first magazine publication. When Melvillewas rediscovered in the 1920, this specific piece of work has been hotlydebated from all his work. This is due to the fact the setting focuses on WallStreet and the legal and business mentality. It is considered modern till thisdate.

This has to do with the fact that some of the elements apply hundred andsixty years later. Since it is a Wall Street Story, a portion of the ManhattanIsland that has made New York the grand commercial crossroad of the world.Melville uses allegory, ambiguity, and symbolism to react to cultural issuesrelated to class. Furthermore, he examines what would happen in a society wherepeople ditch the norms of society and do what they wish.

Melville might have written Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street out of frustrationof his previous commercially publication failure. He was always tryingsomething new in his writing, the first few works were quite successful. But, laterin his career most of the publication failed to gain a large audience. Thereference to the scrivener in Bartleby is an allegorical reference. During thattime a certain type of written was acceptable. Melville was told several timesby the public on what the correct way to write is. He was supposed to “copy” a  certaintype of writing style. Since he decided to not follow the writing norms of thesociety, the rest was history.

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He was barely able to meet his expenses, theclassical middle-class struggle. During the 1850s even though America was ademocracy it had low tolerance for innovative ideas.Melville started to question if one could be a successful writer and atthe same time be themselves. Very soon he concluded that they couldn’t, and hesuffered the consequences of not following the norms. Susan Weiner stated that, “First, Melville does not want towrite something suitable for a mass market publication. He prefers not tocater to popular taste… The lawyer writes the “original” document…The scriveners then copy duplicates to make all involved have an identicalunderstanding… Individuals… mechanically reproduce… any mistake or discrepancyamong the copies would challenge the truthfulness underlying the whole system…” (Journal of American Culture Vol.

17 64). The job of ascrivener is boring and repetitive and has no room for creativity. The copiesmust look the same otherwise the so-called system will lose its equilibrium,that is highly unacceptable. If one does as it wishes, is part of themiddle-class, and did not have a cushion to fall on the future did not lookbright for them.              The short story, Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story ofWall-street takes places in a law office located in a booming center ofcommerce.

The law office consists of several old men who only interact witheach other in a professional manner. The sense of impersonality plays asignificant role, suggesting that in the field they work there is no room forpersonal interaction. Aside from what we know about each character and theirpersonality from office we don’t know anything, not even the narrator.

As aresult, Melville is suggesting that neither does his short story have  room forindividual experiences.  Since the shortstory lacks individuality, it is suggesting pessimism. This is because humanbeings seem to be alienated from each other despite the fact they interact daily.

It raises question rather this is possible in an alternate setting. Melville issuggesting an irony regarding the urban setting and loneliness. Even though youare surrounded by tons of people in the city and the law practice you can stillbe lonely.

            In “Bartleby the Scrivener” there isan enormous amount of food reference. There are two lawyers Turkey and GingerNut. Turkey is an Englishman who works as a copyist for the lawyer but has adrinking problem. Ginger Nut is a twelve-year-old minor working as an internwho runs errands for the employees. He is supposed to be learning about the lawpractice but that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Instead he runs aroundcollecting snacks for the other employee. He ends up getting his name from thechip spicy cookies he gets for Bartleby, Nippers, and Turkey. Over time thelawyer notices that Bartleby lacks an appetite.

The lawyer claimed, “He lives, then, on ginger-nuts,thought I; never eats a dinner, properly speaking; he must be a vegetarianthen; but no; he never eats even vegetables, he eats nothing but ginger-nuts.My mind then ran on in reveries concerning the probable effects upon the humanconstitution of living entirely on ginger-nuts.” (Herman Melville 52-55). Food can be used as a symbolicmetaphor for desire and avarice.

Since Bartleby doesn’t consume much food, itsuggests that he does not want to deal with avarice and desire of thematerialist world. In the end his preference of not to eat in prison caused hisdeath. This shows pessimism towards the American culture because it didn’t getthem anywhere and brought chaos.   Generally, the law office needs to have top notchcommunication within the organization. However, there seems to be an ambiguityin the communication.

Everyone sorts of stays out of each other’s way. Thelawyer who is also the narrator of the story, seems to be putting up with bademployees, Turkey and Nippers. He always backs out from confrontation becausehe doesn’t want to go through the process of firing and hiring new employees.It is because the communication problem that lands him in a mess with Bartleby.When Bartleby camps out in office, the lawyer does not man up and firmly askhim to leave the premises.

Instead he rents out another office space to avoidthe conflict. Aside from the lawyer’s weakness, he has a high sense of personalresponsibility. This particularly is why he constantly checks on Bartleby.

Evenwhen Bartleby is not his employee he feels responsible for him. Because of thegenuine sense of compassion shown by the lawyer it helps us identify ourselveswith his character. This is one of the few aspects that shows skepticismtowards America’s progress.

This is because the lawyer is not giving up hestill has hope that things will be better with Bartleby. In addition, Melvillewants us to concern whether is better to tip toe around the problem or confrontit directly. In the closing monologue, the symbolism of the dead lettersis revealed. Throughout the short story there were rumors about Bartlebyworking in the dead- letter office. The lawyer claimed, “When I think over this rumor, Icannot adequately express the emotions which seize me. Dead letters! does itnot sound like dead men? (Melville 250).Since Bartleby was reading the letters intended for the dead recipient, it musthave been a depressing task. As a result, Bartleby eventually became emotionallydetached.

The dead letter symbolized the emerging middle class blue collar jobs.Since the task is repetitive it could quickly become hard to endure.  Even inthe twenty-first century, common cause of depression among employees isrepetitive task.

Bartleby, probably switched jobs because it was becoming hardto endure. Even though the environment was different in the law office itssimilar work. His task at the law firm is to copy letters. He willingly did itfor some time, but he eventually gives up or “prefers not to.”   Bartleby’s “punchline”, “I would prefer not to” and hischoice to die of starvation are allegorical representation. Back than and evenin the twenty first century, many workers perform continuous work that isboring and eventually becomes a thoughtless job.

The worker unquestioninglycomplete tasks just for the paycheck. This allegory represents that death is preferableto repetitive work. The prison clerk stated, “‘His dinner is ready. Won’t he dine to-day, either? Or does helive without dining?” “Lives without dining”…and closed the eyes…” (Melville 246-247).

Following the aftermath of the lawyer vacatingthe office and another firm moving in, Bartleby is arrested. In prison he campsout and does not consume any food. He does this in attempt to show that he doesnot want to go back to doing the boring job that doesn’t pay well. He prefersto die than go back to the working class’s everyday phenomena. The view towardsthe improvements in the working class seems to be pessimistic.                  The short story has a heavy emphasison charity and selfishness.

It seemed to touch upon consumerism and materialism.The lawyer believed he did “charity” by keeping Bartleby. Especially since heknew that Bartleby will only cause trouble. The lawyer thought, “Poor fellow! thought I, he means nomischief; it is plain he intends no insolence; his aspect sufficiently evincesthat his eccentricities are involuntary. He is useful to me.

I can get alongwith him. If I   turn him away, the chances are he will fall in with some lessindulgent employer, and then he will be rudely treated, and perhaps drivenforth miserably to starve.” The only reason that Bartleby is still not officially fired is becausehe provides benefits to the lawyer. Since the lawyer keeps Bartleby in the office, through his thought process, the lawyerpats himself on the back. He believed that because he is not firing him hewon’t be starving. In addition, the lawyer is suggesting that the best use ofBartleby is for him to continue making copies.

In other words, the lawyerindirectly states he is not skilled for any other job. Melville isdemonstrating the superiority inferiority complex. Indirectly suggesting thatthe wealthy lawyers is better than the working-class, Bartleby.              Turkey who is the oldest employee inthe law firm, does an excellent job in the morning. However, in the afternoonhe drinks for lunch and makes many mistakes in his work. He is from the working-classbackground, who isn’t that wealthy.

Financially, he probably just makes itthrough the month. He cannot afford any other unnecessary expenses and his clothingare wore and messy. The lawyer claimed, “His clothes were apt to look oily and smell of eating-houses.He wore his pantaloons very loose and baggy in summer. His coats wereexecrable; his hat not be to handled… The truth was, I suppose, that a man withso small an income, could not afford to sport such a lustrous face and alustrous coat at one and the same time… One winter day I presented Turkeywith a highly-respectable looking coat of my own…” (Melville 11).

 Even though thelawyer offered Turkey his luxurious coat he did it for his own personalbenefit.  This is because he was worriedthat it might make him look bad. If clients come to his office and observe thatthe employees there smell he might lose clients.

Furthermore, he had a selfish  motive when he giftedTurkey a nice coat. The lawyer was hoping he would become productive in theafternoon. It shows that the wealthy people of America cared more about theirreputation and would do anything to maintain it.

            The class struggle of Bartleby isnot directly implied. It is probably related to alienation and ideologicalstruggle. The struggle between the lawyer and the Bartleby cannot be understoodaside from the class polarization.

The lawyer sort of treats his employee likewage slaves. Barbara stated, “he erects screens and barriers between himself and them; heviews them as “useful” and “valuable”; and he reducesindividuality… viewing the scriveners’ peculiarities as intrinsic rather thancaused by their relation to him. He offers charity rather than higher wages…” (American Literature Vol.

72 87). The lawyer considers himself theelite American and his employees are the less fortune ones. He seems to showconcern for his employees up to a certain extent. However, if he truly caredabout them then he would raise their wages. In addition, he doesn’t like to gethis hands dirty because if he wanted he could have easily thrown Bartleby outof his office. He was probably concerned that his elite peers would form badopinions about him. This shows that the rich act like they want to help but inthe end, they care more about themselves.

            During the nineteenth century toraise a family comfortably the average middle class needed to earn an annualsalary of $500. Bartleby situation represents downward mobility.  Richard once claimed, “During his stint as a governmentclerk, Bartleby had almost certainly commanded a salary of at least$1,000 a year. This was a considerable sum… In expensive   localities like New York City, where “Bartleby” isset, that minimum for comfort could easily exceed $600.5 Yet it would have beenrare, if not unknown, for even the most enterprising law office copyist to makehalf this sum.” (The New EnglandQuarterly Vol.

70 631). Bartleby might have become frustrated and upset withthe new circumstances. Even though the new job was not depressing it didn’tearn him enough for him to make a proper living. The lawyer stated, “‘I owe you twelve dollars on account;here are thirty-two; the odd twenty are yours.

” (Melville 143). Despite the lawyer’s generosity the amount he receivedwasn’t significant. Melville through Bartleby shows that financial strugglesthat the working class faced during that time. It was hard for them to maketheir regular living. This is also suggested by the fact that Bartleby startsliving in the office. He probably does not have a home to go back to, mostlikely due to his recent downward mobility.

             The struggles of thenineteenth century working class people still apply in the twenty-firstcentury. There are thousands of Americans that go to work everyday and do thesame repetitive task paycheck to paycheck. They might not enjoy and if theydecide to do their will they won’t have a roof on top of their head. If youdon’t follow instructions and tell your boss, “I would prefer not to” yourgoing to be given a box and asked to show yourself out. In certain situations,it might be better to tip toe around the problem rather than confronting itdirectly. Most of the working class makes minimum wage, barely having moneyleft at the end of the month.

In an office setting, everyone must be wellgroomed because the employees represent the place they work at. There is littletolerance for mistakes, everything must be done correctly in and in a timelymanner.