The lawyer who hires Bartleby as a clerk is at first pleased with his diligence and good work habits. He later becomes becomes frustrated and perplexed as Bartleby begins picking and choosing what work he will do. When Bartleby tells the lawyer, "I would prefer not to," in response to being given an assignment, the lawyer responds as follows:
I looked at him steadfastly. His face was leanly composed; his gray eye dimly calm. Not a wrinkle of agitation rippled him. 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 him from the premises. But as it was, I should have as soon thought of turning my pale plaster-of-paris bust of Cicero out of doors.
Bartleby increasingly becomes a problem for the lawyer, moving from working when he feels like it to neither working nor leaving the office. The lawyer also becomes more and more curious about him....
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