How does Bartleby's "I would prefer not to" affect the routine of the lawyer and his employees?

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Bartleby’s response does upset his lawyer employer, although his fellow employees, Nipper, Turkey, and Gingernut, are hardly without their eccentricities as well. It always struck me as odd that doing nothing, which is what Bartleby prefers to do, is so abhorrent. Bartleby alone seems to grasp the ridiculousness of not only his job (to laboriously make hand written copies of legal documents), but of the whole business of existing as a subject with a personal history, place to live, and the rest.

I think that the effect of this negation, particularly on the part of the narrator, is to create a kind of crisis of conscience. As the narrator says, “nothing so aggravates an earnest person as a passive resistance,” and Bartleby is nothing if not passive. Unable to make Bartleby do anything using his usual methods, the narrator decides to show compassion: “Here I can cheaply purchase a delicious self-approval. To befriend Bartleby; to humor him in his strange willfulness, will cost me...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 658 words.)

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