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Bartleby the Scrivener

Bartleby the Scrivener


by Herman Melville

Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?

"Ah, Bartleby! Ah, humanity!" Ah, Melville! Seriously, guys – what an ending! With these parting words, this small story about one strange man becomes a statement about all of humanity.

Melville concludes this odd tale with the pathetic, mystifying death of its central enigma, the character of Bartleby. After Bartleby dies, alone and imprisoned, we finally learn one little tidbit about his past: apparently, he previously worked in the Dead Letter Office (a section of the Post Office that gets rid of undeliverable mail). The narrator wonders if this horrifyingly depressing job might have affected Bartleby's sanity – and we, in turn, must wonder what makes all of us who we are.

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