Essay on Bartleby the Scrivener: Lawyer Double

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Bartleby the Scrivener, by Herman Melville is a novella about a nameless lawyer who has in his employ a scrivener named Bartleby. Bartleby, throughout the novella, has different periods of work. In the beginning, he does his scrivening without reprimand or without hesitation, but as the novella progresses his attitude toward work changes drastically. Mordecai Marcus’ critical essay on the novella makes some good points, such that Bartleby is a psychological double for the lawyer, he represents a subliminal death drive within himself, and the conflict between absolutism and free will. All three of these points are attributed to Bartleby because he represents each respectively. In Mordecai Marcus’ critical essay on Bartleby the …show more content…
In the middle of the novella, Bartleby’s power over the rest of the office is greatly apparent in that both Nippers and Turkey begin saying “prefer”, “Prefer not, eh? Gritted Nippers – ‘I’d prefer him, if I were you sir,’” (Melville 36) This example of how the others in the office, besides the lawyer, are affected by the sheer presence of Bartleby is an appropriate testament to the amount of power Bartleby has acquired throughout the novella. He has been able to change the words both Nippers and Turkey use without actually telling them. Bartleby’s power, by the middle of the novella is already much greater than that of the lawyer. Toward the end of the novella, when Bartleby is in Jail, the lawyer has no power over Bartleby because there is nothing that he can do. All he can do is watch him die, with the death of Bartleby being the ultimate example of the lack of power the lawyer had over Bartleby. Marcus’ essay also states, toward the end of the essay, that “Bartleby has partially represented a subliminal death drive within him [the lawyer].” (Marcus 3). This does not appear to be true in the beginning because the lawyer thinks that he has found the best worker he could find, “…Bartleby did an extraordinary quantity of writing. As if long famishing for something to copy.” (Melville 16) Through the middle of the story, the lawyer still has a

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