Bartleby the Scrivener | Study Guide

Herman Melville

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Bartleby the Scrivener | Character Analysis


The narrator

The narrator is a proud man close to age 60 who values work and the connections he has been able to make. His small staff functions well together despite their quirks. He makes no mention of family or friends and seems content to make a prospering business the focus of his life.


Bartleby joins the staff of the narrator as a scrivener. After a couple of days on the job, he begins to refuse certain tasks his boss asks of him. Eventually, he does nothing but reside in the narrator's office. He is calm and silent, as well as noncompliant.


Turkey is around the same age as his boss, the narrator, and considers himself to be the right-hand man. He works effectively and efficiently in the mornings. However, he comes back drunk from his long lunches. In the afternoons his work is poor, and he is harsh. The narrator offers him the option to work only in the mornings, but he declines and insists he is needed and capable.


Nippers is an ambitious young man who suffers from indigestion, which makes him irritable in the mornings. It typically dissipates by the afternoon when he becomes more effective and pleasant. He has clients of his own and is active politically.

Ginger Nut

Ginger Nut is 12 years old. His father, who got him the job, has big dreams and hopes his son will learn about the law and one day become a judge. Ginger Nut is compliant and runs errands for the others in the office.

Questions for Characters

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