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Bartleby the Scrivener

Bartleby the Scrivener


by Herman Melville

Bartleby the Scrivener Morality and Ethics Quotes

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

Quote #1

I am a man who, from his youth upwards, has been filled with a profound conviction that the easiest way of life is the best. (1)

This rather surprising assertion leads us to immediately question the morality of the Narrator – after all, "easy" doesn't always mean "good," unfortunately.

Quote #2

Nippers […] was a whiskered, sallow, and upon the whole rather piratical-looking young man of about five and twenty. I always deemed him the victim of two evil powers – ambition and indigestion. (9)

We begin to form some idea of the Narrator's personal ethics here; his judgment of Nippers's discontented ambition makes it clear that he thinks people should simply go through life uneventfully, as he does.

Quote #3

It is not seldom the case that, when a man is browbeaten in some unprecedented and violently unreasonable way, he begins to stagger in his own plainest faith. He begins, as it were, vaguely to surmise that, wonderful as it may be, all the justice and all the reason is on the other side. Accordingly, if any disinterested persons are present, he turns to them for some reinforcement for his own faltering mind. (29)

Here, the Narrator offers a description, in a nutshell, of how ethics often work – simply by a process of general consensus. In seeking the advice of Turkey, Nippers, and Ginger Nut, he hopes to determine what is "just" and "right."

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