Bartleby, the Scrivener recounts a story of a scrivener who would prefer not to do anything, whether that be parts of his job, changing his location, or eating his dinner. The narrator’s reaction to Bartleby’s lazy desires seem to be admirable, but his selfish motivation and false compassion are evident. The way the narrator views and treats Bartleby is consistent with the standards of philanthropy of the wealthy during the mid-nineteenth century. The narrator truly believes he has helped Bartleby to the best of his ability, yet fails to connect with Bartleby outside of offering him money and future assistance if required. This may be blamed on the narrator’s lack of relationship with God. People below the narrator’s socioeconomic status were viewed solely on how they could benefit him and his business and were expected to conform to the narrator’s standards. Bartleby the Scrivener, though a melancholy story leading to Bartleby’s death, can be used to see an accurate picture of philanthropy in the 1850s.
"I Would Prefer Not to Help You,"
Aidenn: The Liberty Undergraduate Journal of American Literature:
1, Article 4.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/lujal/vol1/iss1/4