In the first paragraph of "Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street," the narrator tells us, "Bartleby was one of those beings of whom nothing is ascertainable, except from the original sources, and in his case those are very small." Yet he concludes with the following words: "Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!" What do you think these words are meant to imply? Is Bartleby being equated with humanity? What tone or emotions might be implied by the use of the interjection "ah"? Has the narrator somehow changed his view or opinion of Bartleby? How?

The final words of "Bartleby the Scrivener" are meant to imply that Bartleby's situation is humanity's situation. We all suffer from the tragedy of isolation and miscommunication. The tone or emotion conveyed by the two "ahs" at the end is one of regret for the lonely fate of both Bartleby and humankind. The story of the dead letter office helps the narrator understand and, therefore, grow more sympathetic to Bartleby.

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The words "Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!" equate Bartleby's situation with humanity's: we all are subjected to the kind of grief, loss, and isolation Bartley experiences because our attempts to communicate with each other so often misfire. The lost letters Bartleby handled in Washington symbolize all the failed efforts to connect that humanity makes. Bartleby, too, when he shuts down and "prefers not to" do his work anymore as a scrivener or even leave the office, represents this larger failure of communication.

In the quote in the first paragraph about Bartleby being a person...

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