Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street

This classic story of a New York lawyer and his oddly rebellious clerk is as relevant today as when it was first published in 1853. Herman Melville brings us into a small Wall Street law office and introduces us to the lawyer and his quirky staff, the quirkiest of whom is poor, quiet Bartleby, whose increasing refusals to participate in office procedures lead to increasingly bewildering and tragic consequences.

Written as a first-person narrative from the lawyer’s perspective, Melville’s story exposes the lawyer’s internal struggle as he tries to balance empathy and self-interest in dealing with Bartleby. In doing so, this poignant tale asks some of the essential questions of humanity: What are our responsibilities to each other, and what are the limits of our compassion?

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