What effect does the opening paragraph have on readers? What is learned about the narrator?

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The first paragraph of the story has a lot of information in it, but most of the information has to do with things we infer about the narrator from the way he writes, rather than what he actually says.

There are a few outright facts in the paragraph: we learn that the writer is old. We learn that he has know many law copyists or scriveners. We learn that Bartleby was the oddest one he ever knew.

When we consider how the paragraph is written, however, we can infer quite a bit more. The paragraph is written in a overly formal, legalistic way. The writer is always qualifying his assertions: he means to say that scriveners are fascinating people, but he says only that they "would seem" interesting -- they appear to be interesting, but they...

(The entire section contains 402 words.)

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