Bartleby and the Narrator: Dou

Length: 5 Pages 1271 Words

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, incurabl Continue...


A fraternal melancholy! For both I and Bartleby were sons of Adam. As the story continues, the narrator, in describing Bartleby's behavior and habits, makes it evident Bartleby haunts his workplace. He describes going up the stairs to his old office as, "going upstairs to my old haunt. In the beginning of the story, Bartleby haunts the narrator, later in the story the roles are reversed and the narrator now is the ghost of Bartleby. This quote was saying that Bartleby was already a ghost. 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. Upon visiting the office early one Sunday the narrator realized that : "that Bartleby had been making his home their and that "every night of everyday when Wall Street was at emptiness. It also explains the definition of a ghost. Even while Bartleby was working in a busy crowded office the narrator still referred to him as being: "...absolutely alone in the Universe. Both characters change throughout the story because of the affect that they have on each other. A landscape both completely unnatural and sadly empty. He begins to see the sadness of humanity through Bartleby's eyes . The bond of a common humanity now drew me irresistibly to gloom. Here, the narrator connects with Bartleby and realizes that he is indeed his double and so gains a new perspective on himself and the connections between human beings.