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Bartleby the Scrivener

Bartleby the Scrivener


by Herman Melville

Analysis: Narrator Point of View

Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?

First Person (Central Narrator)

Melville's choice of narrator is particularly important to this story. While he could have chosen any number of different angles from which to view the strange scrivener, his choice of the lawyer allows us to get close to Bartleby, but still feel profoundly mystified by him. We see everything through the eyes of Bartleby's employer, who is directly affected by the scrivener's inaction, and through this perspective, we quickly identify with the conflicted feelings of the Narrator. It is as though we, like the Narrator, are involved in trying to deal personally with Bartleby, a sensation that keeps us fully engaged with the story as it heads towards its tragic ending.

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