Bartleby is meant to illustrate vividly the costs and casualties of a society that fails to embrace diversity in a never-ending quest to describe and define the world around it according to reductive, deterministic categories. In fact, though his famous preferences are uttered twenty-four times in the novel, twelve times Bartleby simply remains silent, provisioning no response to the narrator's demands and questions. Whereas the narrator in Bartleby, the Scrivener shows many signs of unreliability, which readers have to consider and weigh in their evaluation and interpretation of the narrative as a whole, the narrator in Benito Cereno reports the facts of the story reliably. In short, his own misguided attempts to aid Bartleby have stalemated any possibility for his success in this avenue. A disability-theory inspired reading of the text, however, illuminates the irony of this statement. As Delbanco points out, the novella is actually told by a heterodiegetic and extradiegetic narrator; a narrator who does not take part in the story but tells it from above. Is he a Christ figure or a Freudian figure of the uncanny? Indeed, in addition to the lack of learning more about, bartleby, the overly curious reader fails, along with the narrator, to learn from. Feverish pursuit of objective, definable truths about those around us often leads to less comprehension, not more. The mystery of Bartleby, like Drood, remains inviolate and eternal, retaining that perfection, that sense of immortality, to which. Critical analyses which purport to have discovered the smoking gun of a source for the character of Bartleby are of similarly popular appeal, a fact which Dan McCall notes in his discussion of what he calls "the Bartleby Industry" (1-32).
Through the inclusion of little anecdotes that are later dismissed as being by the way(547 the narrator reveals, for example, that he lost the office of master in chancery and with it a great deal of money he had hoped to make in the future. the narrator asks Bartleby (19). Bartleby's minimal formula should be understood as a form of silence. Bartleby is not "an irreparable loss to literature" because we have insufficient biographical data about him, but because we have insufficient information about his inner, subjective experience and his personally defined and articulated needs. Bartleby, the Scrivener is an uncommonly strange tale that no one can quite grasp the meaning of, but it thereby serves as a singular meditation on the presence of the divine in things uncommon and strange. In short, the reader views the narrator either as agent or subject of modern law and bureaucracy. To do so only reenacts the tragedy of Bartleby's death, leaving us with explanations which, while palatable and easily digestible, do not embrace the full complexity of the ethical and social dilemmas Melville begs readers to consider. Critical Complicity, the narrator even goes so far as to invite the reader's complicity in his assumptions about Bartleby. Any personal injury that results from these situations is carefully explained away as tolerable because it is canceled out by other attributes that reflected credit upon his chambers idaho Legislature 2000 Project (548).