In "Bartleby the Scrivener", where is Melville going with all this?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Melville is trying to point out the consequences of having someone do menial labor that requires little thought, but a lot of accuracy, day in and day out. He is also pointing out that people are individuals, not simply cogs in a copy machine. The constant grind of copying documents begins to wear on Bartleby. At first, he would "prefer not to" check his work and finally he "would prefer not" to live. The kindly lawyer tries to help him out, but really doesn't understand Bartelby's problem. Your question asks, "Where is Melville going with all this?" A better question might be, "Where was society going with this?"

richardv88 | Student

ALL of the speculation posted here about the motives for Melville are simply WRONG. All you have to do to figure this out is look at Melville's biography and see what was going on in his life. 1) He isn't writing...at least not what he wants to write, 2) He has had to go to work for his father-in-law, 3) His father-in-law is an attorney, 4) His office is just off "Wall" Street in New York City, 5)Melville HATES this dead-end job his wife forced him to take so he could support her and 6)Melville's marriage is failing. And people wonder why he wrote Bartleby?

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