The character of Bartleby is the most interesting narrative from the narrator of Bartleby the Scrivener. The narrator describes Bartleby as “one of those beings of whom nothing is ascertainable, except from the original sources, and, in his case, those were very small”. It is important to note that before describing Bartley, the narrator first describes other characters working in the law office. The description of the first scrivener is that of Turkey who the narrator describes as excellent in the morning but poor in the afternoon. The narrator also describes Nippers as ambitious and whose character is directly opposite that of Turkey considering that he (Nippers) usually has trouble working in the morning but gradually adjusts as the day wears on. As such, the author portrays Nippers as calm and a person who works steadily. Consequently, the narrator describes Ginger as the errand boy in the office. It is important to note that the narrator does not have any problem describing the character of every character in the law office except Bartleby. Bartleby’s character is even more unpredictable when the narrator, the Lawyer, wants him to examine some documents but he refuses to do the job stating calmly, “I would prefer not to” (Woodlief n. pag). This answer portrays Bartleby as being independent -minded who is willing to exercise his freedom of mind regardless of the consequences.
In order to understand the character of Bartley, it is important to understand the concept of inner and outer man from the On Good Works by Martin Luther. According to Luther, the inner man, which comprises of the heart and spirit of the human being is not motivated by faith or works. He also considers the outer man to be the part of a person in which works can be manifest. Luther concludes that the inner man is based on faith and does not require any law or good works to determine the nature of good or bad, just or unjust (Neal n.pag). Ultimately, Luther argues that there is no outer work that can justify the inner man hence no work can influence the inner man to become unjust; instead, the inner man determines the character of the work. Through this concept of justification, it is possible to understand Bartleby’s notion of freedom in Bartleby the Scrivener as emanating from his inner man. It is apparent that that Bartleby is an inner man given that prefers not to perform the duties that his employer allocates him with the aim of freeing the outer man working in the law office.
Neal, Gregory. “Martin Luther On Good Works”. Grace Incarnate Ministries, 2002. Web. 26
Woodlief, Ann. "Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street" (1853). Web. 26 Apr. 2016.