Melville Uses Reversed Version of the American Adam in Bartleby the Scrivener

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Herman Melville is the author responsible to writing Bartleby the Scrivener; a story about a copyist whose former employer is responsible for his lack of communication toward not only his boss and co-workers but society as whole. When Bartleby is first hired the lawyer is ecstatic about the great job Bartleby is doing and is happy that he causes no trouble at all. This excitement begins to disappear when Bartleby starts to answer most of the lawyers request with a simple “I’d prefer not”. Melville does a tremendous job at showing the readers how Bartleby’s past employer is affecting his current job and life choices without introducing exactly what it was that Bartleby did at his former job. Bartleby is the key to this story. Melville purposely avoids telling us anything intimate about Bartleby. In the end we find out that Bartleby worked in the Dead Letter Office in the postal service. This is where we begin to understand why he is distant from everything around him. I find this story interesting because unintentionally Bartleby makes the lawyer have a change of heart toward him. The lawyer not only took advantage of Bartleby but tried to control him for his own self reasons. Bartleby a character who gives little to none communication changed a selfish, self-centered man without even trying. This was one of the things I thought stood out the most. Using three traits of the American Adam of common/everyday life, the epiphany of Enlightenment and innocence; I will show that Melville uses the reversed version of the American Adam. Every day we are faced with people that we ourselves do not understand; because of this uncertainty we force ourselves to push these people outside of what we think is “normal”. This is exactly what is happening to Bartleby. His community doesn’t understand him nor do they want to. They only want to treat him like he

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