So is anyone out there familiar with the story of Bartleby the scrivener? It was written by Melville, you know, that guy who wrote Moby Dick. Ah I see some recognition in your eyes. Now back to Bartleby the scrivener. How I love his story and hate his character. I hate how often my instructors wish me to reflect upon his choices, I hate how easy it was for him to prefer not to, I hate how despite it being considered one of Melville's worst works, it's also considered one of the best.
I think what I hate most is that people quote Bartleby only when they wish to philosophical and intelligent while at the same point declining your proposition. It irks me the wrong way and always at the worst time. Such as recently, I had been reading Stephen King's Bag of Bones. It had been a delightful tale, though I disagree with some plot choices he makes. The book is several hundred pages long and as I reached the last sentence, there it was. "I've put down my scriviner's pen. These days I prefer not to." That ruined the entire ending of the book for me.
I suppose if you kept reading this long you want to know why exactly Bartleby irks me in the wrong way. Here's the way I see Bartleby, it's not about him being a lazy ass and then dying as an end result. Crude I know but I've heard it said that way on many occasions. To me Bartleby is the ever fussing debate of whether the man is brave or is he a coward. He find a point in his life where he decides to defy the social norms via 'preferring not to'.
I like to argue and conspire with people about this. Is his preferring not to an act of cowardice towards life or is it an ultimate act of defiance?
Think on this, you go to a school where you are required to wear a uniform. You wear plain clothes instead because you prefer not to wear the uniform. Why? Now what? What happens if you go to work and you prefer not to? What happens if all your friends are pressuring you to give it up on the first date and you prefer not to? All of Bartleby's theoretical problems came from him not conforming to the usual standards of society.
Let's shift gears for a moment away from social norms and consequences of not conforming and let's talk about mirrors just briefly. I'm probably not the first and won't be the last to notice this in Bartleby but I think the man functions as a mirror. First the reader identifies with the rejections of values and Bartleby keeps pushing until he reaches the values that the reader isn't will to reject. It allows the reader to be sympathetic to his cause before categorizing it as being unreasonable.
Now I could keep going from here and whipping out philosophers names and throwing around theories but there is not fun in that for me. I'd rather here from your lot. What do you think on Bartleby? I'm more in the mood to talk philosophy and Bartleby with you than talk to myself about it. If you need acess to a copy of the story it is avalaible legally and free
Corset feeling all discombobulated today,