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Depression in Bartleby

Depression is a disease. It takes over every aspect of your everyday life. You no longer have the ambition to do the things you used to do. Your social life diminishes, and you close yourself off from society. Many times a person who suffers from depression receives treatment. That person may reach out for help or someone may notice that he or she is suffering and reach out to him or her. However, there are times when a person is not treated. This person may not be able to reach out to anyone, or there may not be anyone to reach out to him or her. Yet, there may be someone who tries to reach him or her, but for some reason is unable to succeed. In Herman Melville’s short story, Bartleby the Scrivener, I think Bartleby represents a person suffering from depression, and the lawyer represents the person seeking to help him.

The lawyer hires Bartleby as a scrivener. At first, Bartleby does his assignments, but one day, he refuses to do the work. He tells the lawyer, I prefer not to. From that day forth, he continues to refuse to do his work. I think Bartleby preferring not to do his work represents a depressed person refusing to participate in activities they once were active in. Often times when a person is depressed they lose interest in the things he or she once had interest in, and he or she simply prefers not to do it. Bartleby refuses to take part in his work, and basically becomes a hermit inside of the office.

The lawyer is baffled by Bartleby s refusal to do his work. Although Bartleby does not follow through with the lawyer s request, the lawyer does not take any action upon Bartleby s resistance. It is not for a while in which the lawyer finally attempts to either get Bartleby to do work or leave the office. I think the lawyer represents a person seeking to help one who is depressed. Sometimes a person may notice a depressed person but may not know how to help him or her. I feel that the lawyer was trying to help Bartleby by attempting to communicate with him. At one point in the story the lawyer tried to get some background information on Bartleby, such as where he was from, but Bartleby preferred not to say. I think this was the lawyer s way of trying to reach out to him. However, the lawyer is unable to reach out to Bartleby, and instead of continuing to attempt at trying to get him to do something, he moved away from Bartleby.

In the end, Bartleby is brought to prison. I think this prison can represent a type of hospital, where a person who is seriously depressed may end up. Bartleby dies in this prison because he refuses to eat his food. This is a representation of suicide. In some cases of depression, suicide is the end result. In conclusion Bartleby is a lazy man, who doesn t communicate with anyone and doesn t do anything. All of his characteristics are signs of depression. Therefore, Bartleby is a representation of Depression.


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