You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and sometimes you shouldn’t judge a story by its first couple pages. When I first started reading Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Tale of Wall Street,” I thought that it was going to be a long drawn out story full of too much chatter and not enough action. My interest was not captured within the first couple ofpages, and I looked ahead to see how many more pages I had to go. Seeing how long the story was, I felt dismayed, but as I continued reading I reached the end of it much too quickly. I had misjudged the story, just as the story’s narrator misjudges Bartleby right from the beginning.
When the character of Bartleby takes a role in the story, things start to become interesting. The narrator believes that Bartleby, whom he has just hired, to be a good, normal man of a calmer nature: “a man of so singularly sedate an aspect.” And at the beginning, Bartleby did appear to be somewhat normal. He did what he was supposed to as a scrivener. In fact, he “did an extraordinary quantity of writing.”
However, as the story progresses, Bartleby slowly shows his truer nature. He slows down in his work. When his boss, the narrator, would ask him to complete a task, Bartleby would continually tell him that he’d “prefer not to.” Eventually Bartleby stopped working altogether and though the narrator tried to fire him, Bartleby would not leave. In fact, Bartleby actually lived in the copying house.
My attention was focused on wondering what this character Bartleby was all about, just like the narrator, after realizing that this man was not normal after all. I wanted to know why he refused to do certain things, and yet refused to do it in such a nice manner so that the narrator kept taking pity on the man. The narrator tried to reason with Bartleby. Even when the narrator moved out of the copy house and into a new one, just to get away from Bartleby, he still went back to the man to try to talk to him....