What is the significance of walls in "Bartleby the Scrivener, A Tale of Wall Street"?

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Walls repeatedly symbolize Bartleby's walled-in existence, representing his lack of anything in life to look forward to. Not only do they reflect his despairing mental state, they reinforce it. In many ways, the worst place Bartleby could have ended up, in terms of space and architecture, was the lawyer's offices. We are told that these offices (significantly on Wall Street) have been surrounded over time by tall buildings which have, so to speak, "walled in" the second-floor space. The lawyer speaks ironically of his own view:

of a lofty brick wall, black by age and everlasting shade; which wall required no spy-glass to bring out its lurking beauties, but for the benefit of all near-sighted spectators, was pushed up to within ten feet of my window panes.

Worse, the lawyer puts Bartleby into an even more claustrophobic space:

I placed his desk close up to a small side-window in that part of the room, a window which originally had afforded a lateral view of certain grimy back-yards and...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1025 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 6, 2019