What in the world is this story about? What is wrong with Bartleby? Is he lazy or crazy?

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Bartleby is neither lazy nor crazy. We are led to believe (though the lawyer stresses that he doesn't know with certainty) that Bartleby suffers from despair.

He starts off in his job as a hard worker who impresses his new boss, the lawyer. Then he decides that he would "prefer not to" work. He simply looks out of his window all day at the blank wall a few feet away.

The lawyer, luckily for Bartleby, is compassionate, as he puts up with his employee doing no work, though he finally moves offices to try to get rid of him. In the end, the lawyer finds Bartleby in the appropriately-named Tombs, a prison, where he refuses to eat and dies.

Later, the lawyer hears that Bartleby once worked in the dead letter office in Washington D. C. This was where all the letters that never arrived at their destinations went to be dealt with and discarded. This constant reminder of the failure and futility of human attempts to communicate and connect filled Bartleby with hopelessness, the lawyer surmises....

(The entire section contains 6 answers and 1040 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 22, 2020
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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 22, 2020
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