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Bartleby the Scrivener, A Tale of Wall Street

by Herman Melville

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What is the narrator's attitude towards public opinion and the reaction of his clients and colleagues?

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The story's narrator puts up with his negative opinions about Bartleby for some time. Finally, however, when the fired Bartleby refuses to leave and remains a statue-like fixture in the office, the lawyer rents new office space and moves.

Bartleby does not move from the office. When the new lawyer now renting the old space tracks the narrator down and demands he do something about Bartleby, the narrator says he is not responsible for his former employee. However, when he is threatened with exposure in the newspapers, the narrator decides to try to get Bartleby out his old office space:

Fearful then of being exposed in the papers (as one person present obscurely threatened) I considered the matter, and at length said, that if the lawyer would give me a confidential interview with the scrivener, in his (the lawyer’s) own room, I would that afternoon strive my best to rid them of the nuisance they complained of.

Overall, the narrator is willing to tolerate Bartleby and withstand criticism of his actions as long as possible when a more ordinary employer would have quickly had him removed from the premises, just as the new lawyer does. The narrator feels an unusual amount of sympathy for Bartleby and his plight.

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