Herman Melville ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’

Bartleby the Scrivener is a short story whose setting is in a law office in Wall Street. The story is narrated in the first person by the lawyer running the office (Melville 2014). The lawyer had hired several scriveners or law-copyists in the firm, but the most interesting was Bartleby. Before the arrival of Bartleby, the firm had three workers namely Turkey, Nippers and ginger-nut. This story is relevant even in today’s workplace where different employees are of different characters and challenges in being effective at some hours of the day.

The first scrivener is Turkey who approximately sixty years old. He is effective in the morning, but as the day proceeds, he makes countless mistakes on the copies (Melville 2014). The challenge is solved by giving him documents that are not very important in the evening. This is a challenge that a significant number of employees struggle with. The decrease in productivity may be attributed to fatigue, health or psychological problems. The second scrivener is Nipper who is the opposite of Turkey as he has challenges working in the morning hours but is productive in the afternoon. Gingernut is employed as an errand boy nicknamed so because the two scriveners send him to but ginger cakes.

The third scrivener named Bartleby is the most interesting as at first he works from the morning until night but does not want to carry any other task apart from that of the copyist (Melville 2014). As the days progress, he informs the lawyer that he will no longer perform any task but will just stay in the office. When he is asked to move out and refuses the narrator transfers his firm to another office and leaves Bartleby there. He is arrested and dies in prison as he decided he should not eat. It is possible that Bartleby had severe psychological problems but was seen as a stubborn person. The three scriveners had issues which could have been solved through open communication since isolation affects a person psychologically.



Melville, H. (2014). Bartleby, the Scrivener: A story of Wall Street. Sovereign via Publish Drive.