Essays on Bartleby The Scrivener

Bartleby The Scrivener
Original title Bartleby The Scrivener
Author Herman Melville
Genre Short Story
Language English
Characters Putnam's Magazine" The Two Temples ""Daniel Orme"
Published 1853
ISBN 978-0-14-044921-0
Book Summary
Essay Examples

Table of Contents

About Bartleby The Scrivener

Originally Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street is a short story written by American writer Herman Melville. The story was published in episodes in the November and December issues of Putnam’s Magazine. Later Bartleby the scrivener, reappeared in the Pizza Tales with slight alterations.

The story is critically appreciated. According to Robert Milder, it is a masterpiece of short fiction. In this story, a parallel could be drawn between Melville and Bartleby on the grounds both suffer while writing. And it could be that Bartley represents Melville’s frustration he would usually feel.

The story was lauded for being the precursor of absurdist literature, to the point it mirrors Frank Kafka’s key themes in The Hunger Artist, The Trial. Even Albert Camus, in his letter, cited Melville as the prime influencer in his work. Bartley, The Scrivener, is enlisted in the 100 most influential novels by BBC News in 2019.

Book Summary

Here is the Bartleby The Scrivener summary. Hopefully, it will help you understand the story and its characters deeply. The story opens with an anonymous narrator, a solicitor who claims his office is on Wall Street.

He has employed two scriveners, but as his business advances, he needs another hand. Bartleby, the scrivener, a sad and passive character, is his new employee and produces quality work. Still, when assigned to proofread a piece, his response becomes an everlasting reply to every request.

He merely says, “I would prefer not,” which irritates the other employees and the employer. Bartleby’s passion for work progressively pales, and slowly he does nothing. He is blankly staring out the office window at the brick wall.

The narrator attempts to learn what Bartleby’s problem is but to his surprise, he learns nothing. But once he discovers this, his thoughts converge on the life a young man must lead. Bartley’s all-time presence in the office becomes an apple of discord as they feel him present in the office all the time yet doing nothing.

The narrator switches his office to another building, and the new tenant in his old office needs help to evict Bartleby from the firm, to which the narrator responds with a refusal. After a gap of some time, new tenants, along with their landlord, come to the narrator for help. Bartleby is still acting that way. 

Finally, the narrator agrees and presents an offer to Bartleby, which he refuses to accept. Deeply bothered by the incident, the narrator leaves that place for some days. The narrator does not want anyone to perturb his privacy.

Upon the narrator’s return, he learns that the police had arrested Bartleby and that he is kept in The Tombs because he is a vagrant, according to them. The narrator somehow makes it to see him and finds him in a bad state.

He bribes the cook to ensure Bartleby is well fed, but a few days later, he learns that Bartleby had walked the rainbow bridge due to starvation. Months later, a rumor circulates that Bartleby worked for the dead letter office and recollects how it would have affected him. The narrator is left with awe and, in a deep sigh, calls out, “Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!” 

Bartleby the Scrivener Quotes

The following are a few notable quotes from the story which will help you to understand the Bartleby the scrivener theme:

  •     “Nothing so aggravates an earnest person as passive resistance. If the individual so resisted be of a not inhumane temper, and the resisting one perfectly harmless in his passivity; then, in the better moods of the former, he will endeavor charitably to construe to his imagination what proves impossible to be solved by his judgment.”
  •     “I would prefer not to”
  •     “Ah, Bartleby! Ah, humanity!”
  •   “At present, I would prefer not to be a little reasonable,’ was his mildly cadaverous reply.”
  •     “Will you, or will you not, quit me?’ I now demanded in a sudden passion, advancing close to him.
  •     ‘I would prefer not to quit you,’ he replied, gently emphasizing the not.”

Essay Structure on Bartleby the Scrivener:

An essay follows a proper format having three major constituents. While writing an essay, you discuss a particular subject. The following are the three main parts of an essay:


The introduction is the first paragraph of your essay in which you must add the hood to catch the reader’s attention. It is followed by the thesis statement, which will give the reader an idea about your essay’s subject and educate them about your judgment and opinion on the essay.


The essay’s body discusses the entire debate built around the thesis statement. It is written in brief paragraphs, and each part addresses one point. An effective essay is drafted in a way that each paragraph must have a topic sentence, which will be justified by supporting details that we can provide from the text, comments of the scholars, and critiques as well.

One important thing is that you must write the ideas or the thoughts and make sure they are logically connected. Using transitional devices is important to maintain the connectivity of ideas and paragraphs.


The conclusion is the last part of the essay, where you will briefly discuss the points to give the readers the gist of the entire essay to the reader. You can write your conclusion in many ways. The most common practice is summarizing the essay’s points and discussing them in a way that appeals to the readers, and finally, restating the thesis statement to finish it.

6 Tips To Consider While Writing An Essay About Bartleby The Scrivener:

While writing your essay, the following tips could be fruitful to consider:

Read The Book Thoroughly

Prior knowledge of the text is of prime importance. When you have read the text in detail, you will find yourself in the position to debate any topic that comes to you. You will have ample knowledge and can cite reference quotes to justify your standpoint. Reading the text will boost your confidence, and you can confidently write the essay.

Find A Compelling Topic

Choosing the right topic is another important tip for writing a powerful essay. When choosing the topic, you must make sure that it is not rusty; that is, it is not over-researched before you explore it because it will lose novelty, and the readers will find it boring to go through the same ideas all over again. An interesting topic would cover many other related aspects under the umbrella of one topic. 

Create The Outline

There are several techniques that you can follow to create an outline. First, take the topic and write it on a piece of paper. And make a spider web. Add all the ideas that come to your mind and perspective of what is important and what is not. Just go with the flow. This technique is called brainstorming.

After brainstorming, go through your notes once, twice, thrice, or multiple times. And decide which points are good to be discussed and which could be discarded. We call this the clustering technique. These techniques will enable you to arrange your ideas in a sequence and help you create an outline. 

Write The Thesis Statement

A thesis statement will give the reader a hint about how you will treat the topic in your essay. It serves as a guide for collecting and organizing your essay’s ideas. A good thesis answers all the questions raised by the problems and is well justified by evidence from the text.

Include A Lesson Or Moral

you can add morals to the essay to keep the readers engaged in reading the essay. Morals appeal to the readers’ emotions, and they relate to them. It provides them room to think and self-introspect on their ways. Also, it makes the readers morally upright.

Conclusion: Proofread Your Work

An abrupt ending of an essay fails to leave a lasting impact on the essay; therefore, proofreading is important because it enables you to correct typos and grammatical errors and change the sentences to improve clarity.

Many students find it difficult t put their thoughts on paper and compose an essay. If the same is with so, you can get us to know. Our well-experienced professionals can write the best quality essay for you without making a mistake!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Point Of Bartleby The Scrivener?

The main idea behind the story is that people are suffering silently, which makes them behave differently, and others do not understand them. They do not accept odd behavior.

What Was Wrong With Bartleby The Scrivener?

In the story, Bartleby suffers from depression. He isolates himself from the rest and ultimately dies of starvation. A clinical analysis reveals that he has schizophrenia.

What Does The Ending Of Bartleby The Scrivener Mean?

The story’s ending is not so appealing as Bartleby dies of starvation, but on a deeper level, it seems as though he gives up all his hardships and sufferings; he is ready to move on. He sacrifices himself. It could refer to the martyrs or saints who sacrifice themselves to die peacefully and preserve their faith.

Is Bartleby The Scrivener Autistic?

In Representing Autism (2008), Stuart Murray draws a parallel between Bartleby and his son and claims he falls on autism spectrum disease.

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