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Bartleby and the Narrator: Dou

The structure and the meaning of Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener” is built up in and through the pairing of the characters of Bartleby and the narrator. Throughout the story they both serve as doubles of each, but also as ghosts. Bartleby is throughout the text described in ghostly terms, and the ghost is in some ways the narrator's double. Although it is not immediately obvious that the narrator and Bartleby are doubles of each it or is it obvious that they have much in common. Presumably the narrator is a bachelor just like Bartleby. Both are probably well acquainted with loneliness. This sense of loneliness and the ways in which Bartleby has been described in phantom terms are connecting the two. Bartleby is often seen as an apparition, as when the narrator yells his name until he appears: “Like a very ghost, agreeably to the laws of magical invocation, at the third summons, appeared at the entrance of his hermitage.” Bartleby is the ghost of the narrator in the beginning of the story. There are many examples in the story where this thought is expressed. One example is at the end of paragraph sixteen where the narrator says: “I can see that the figure now—pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn! It was Bartleby.” This quote was saying that Bartleby was already a ghost. It showed that right from the start that Bartleby was already a tired –dead employee. The narrator noticed that the moment that he saw Bartleby. The narrator also began to express how Bartleby was a ghost working for him. In paragraph seventeen the narrator says: “I should have stated before that ground glass folding-doors divided my premises into two parts, one of which was occupied by my scriveners, the other by myself.” This quote talks about how the relationship of Bartleby and the narrator and the other employees are separated into a living people and a ghost. It sets a boundary line. The boundary line sets up ...

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Bartleby and the Narrator: Dou. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:21, August 20, 2014, from