What is the climax of Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener, A Tale of Wall Street"?
A literary climax is defined as that moment or event at which the final outcome of the story is determined. This may be the most emotional and exciting moment in the story but that is not a defining characteristic of a literary climax, which means that a climax may also be a moment at which a quiet decision is made or a revelation occurs or a moral or mental dilemma is solved. In "Bartleby the Scrivener, A Tale of Wall Street," the climax occurs when the lawyer runs out of his old office having failed to extract from Bartleby any idea of what he would want to do and failing equally to convince to do something for the interim since the building landlord was requiring he vacate the premises of the lawyer's old office.
Before this moment, unable to convince Bartleby to act reasonably, the lawyer had circumvented the peculiar problem of Bartleby by escaping to new law offices, leaving Bartleby behind, trespassing on the landlord's property. After this moment, when the lawyer runs out and away from Bartleby, he takes a small vacation. The resolution of the story is hereby set. Events are now out of the lawyers hands and equally out of Bartleby's hands because the lawyer is Bartleby's agent for activity (such as it is) and the lawyer is gone. When the lawyer returns, he learns that society (the landlord in particular) had no choice but to imprison Bartleby as he was trespassing and was without visible means of support. From the climax the resolution is unalterably set and Bartleby's demise, the result of his peculiar form of freedom at the end of his personal Wall Street, is set.