Wall Street is of course the heart of New York's financial district, the epicenter of the global capitalist economy. Even in Herman Melville's day it was a thriving hub of commerce. In the midst of all this hustle and bustle stands—or rather sits—the passive-aggressive figure of Bartleby.
Some have interpreted Bartleby's refusal to leave the office as representing a defiance of the capitalist system in which this humble clerk no longer wishes to work. On this reading, Bartleby has become heartily sick of being part of a business that involves dealing with rich men's bonds, mortgages, and title-deeds. But his defiance is given added significance by the fact that he doesn't just get up and go find another job some place else. Wherever he goes and whatever he does, Bartleby will never truly be able to escape the clutches of the capitalist system, for which Wall Street is a metonym. So he just sits there, occupying the lawyer's office.
Bartleby's sit-in protest against the iniquities of...
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