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Bartleby the Scrivener

Bartleby the Scrivener


by Herman Melville

Bartleby the Scrivener Choices Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Paragraph)

Quote #1

In short, the truth of the matter was Nippers knew not what he wanted. (9)

Nippers's profound discontentment is a result of his uncertainty and undirected ambition – we must wonder if Bartleby is happier, in his way, than the unsure Nippers.

Quote #2

"I would prefer not to," said he.

I looked at him steadfastly. His face was leanly composed; his gray eyes dimly calm. Not a wrinkle of agitation rippled him. Hat there been the least uneasiness, anger, impatience or impertinence in his manner; in other words, had there been anything ordinarily human about him, doubtless I should have violently dismissed him from the premises. But as it was I should have as soon thought of turning my pale plaster-of-Paris bust of Cicero out of doors. (22)

Bartleby's decision is so decisive that it's inhuman – his choices are so definite that his mind is unchangeable, a quality that makes them impossible to question.

Quote #3

"I prefer not to," [Bartleby] replied in a flutelike tone. It seemed to me that, while I had been addressing him, he carefully revolved every statement that I made; fully comprehended the meaning; could not gainsay the irresistible conclusion; but, at the same time, some paramount consideration prevailed with him to reply as he did. (27)

Here, the Narrator tries to comprehend the incomprehensible: Bartleby's decision-making process.

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