Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener”: Introduction of CharacterMelville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener”: Introduction of Character
In the first three paragraphs of Bartleby the Scrivener, Melville
introduces a character who will be played upon and defined throughout his text.
This introduction is crucial to the story and the fact that the lawyer
introduces himself greatly increases its effectiveness. The lawyer begins with
the words, I am a rather elderly man. This first I begins a long,
autobiographical narrative in which the lawyer reveals much of himself to the
reader. Because the story is centered on the lawyer’s life, it is imperative
that the reader have this close view of him.
The repetitive I in these paragraphs is important because it comes
from the lawyer’s thoughts of himself. For this text to flow in it’s intended
path, the reader must know a great deal about the lawyer and his employees. In
fact, it is these characters which consummately defines the text. Therefore,
without the lawyer’s rather unbashful introduction, the story could not complete
In this text, the author has chosen to allow the character to introduce
himself so that it may ease the transition to the reader’s acceptance of the
lawyer’s thoughts and opinions. Although the author could have simply related
facts about the lawyer, the reader is able to obtain much more from the lawyer’s
first person point of view.