What are some things we know about Bartleby?

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Although he is the title character of Herman Melville's short story "Bartleby the Scrivener," the reader is given little background about Bartleby. He is hired to copy documents, but the most obvious thing known is his famous line, indeed the response that he uses for nearly every request made of him: "I prefer not to." The story's narrator, the Lawyer, gives the reader a bit more information at the conclusion of the story: Bartleby apparently once worked in the Dead Letter office, a thankless job that probably contributed to his near insanity. And he apparently was fired from that position following a managerial change.

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