What effect does Bartleby have on the narrator?

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Bartleby has a strange effect on the narrator, a lawyer who employs Bartleby as his scrivener (a person who copies documents). The lawyer increasingly falls under Bartleby's spell as he comes to feel sympathy and compassion for what he calls this "forlorn" man. The lawyer identifies with Bartleby as part of what is sad and lost in all of us as human beings.

When the lawyer hires Bartleby as his scrivener, at first he is delighted with the man's hard work and accuracy. But as time goes on, Bartleby's work habits change. He starts refusing some forms of work, saying he would "prefer not to."

As the lawyer understands, under normal circumstances he would have fired such an employee. But there is something about Bartleby that makes him pause and decide not to dismiss him. The lawyer writes:

Had there been the least uneasiness, anger, impatience or impertinence in his manner; in other words, had there been any thing ordinarily human about him, doubtless I should have violently dismissed...

(The entire section contains 514 words.)

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