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Bartleby, the Scrivener is a story written by Herman Melville in 1953. It is a narration by a lawyer in Manhattan about his two scrinver employees, Nippers and Turkey. The two had different problems that could not let them work the whole day. Nipper had problems of indigestion while Turkey was a drunkard. So turkey could work well in the morning while Nipper could work in the afternoon (Melville, 6). Due to increased business demands, the lawyer employed another person, Bartleby. At first, Bartleby appears as a person who will boost the business because he could do large amounts of work and in a quality manner. But later, his character changes and his final portrait is totally different from the impression he had first created.
Bartleby's physical characteristics and how they foreshadow his final portrait
The lawyer noticed an elusive character of Bartleby when he asked him to assist in proofreading a document and he replied that he would prefer not to. He then continued to perform other fewer jobs in the office. His response irritated the lawyer and the other employees. The lawyer kept trying to reason with him but he still maintained his response of "I would prefer not to" (Melville, 8). His character continued to look strange to the lawyer and at one time he realized that he was living in the office and in very lonely environment where the only thing he could see was a tall wall.
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The final part of Bartleby's life ended in death due to starving himself. After the lawyer failed to get him out of the office, he moved the office and left him behind. Bartleby was later forced out by the tenants of that building and was imprisoned at the tombs. His early portrayed character was very irritating to the lawyer. He behaved like a person who suffered mental illness and could therefore not conform to expectations of any other person or the society. He was unwilling to explain himself and to attempt anything he was told to do. This character foreshadowed a mentally disturbed person, what was also seen in the end of the story.
His decision to live in the office, isolated from the life in Wall Street city was an indication of a person desiring an isolated life, and a person who had nothing to appreciate in life. He could also not appreciate his own life and activities and he preferred not to do anything. This foreshadowed a person who had given up on him own life and who did not want anybody to care about him. This is why at the end he could starve himself despite the efforts of the lawyer to ensure he receives good food. His final portrait was also an indication that other people can give up on a person who has already given up on himself. This is the reason why he was forced to move out of the corridors and sent to prison (Melville, 37). The tenants could not care for him because he had indicated that he also does not care. His physical characteristics of unwillingness to talk and work therefore foreshadowed his end life of letting himself to die miserably.
The physical characteristics of Bartleby can clearly foreshadow how his final life would be. He presented himself as an insane person who did not care much about his life. However, the lawyer maintained his concern until his last minute but Bartleby seemed not to recognize them. His life at the tombs seemed to be the best for him since it isolated him from his human existence, something that he seemed to admire. It would be very easy to tell the final life of Bartleby at the end of the novel by following up his actions, his attitude, and his behaviour towards life.