Bartleby: "I prefer not to,"

"I prefer not to," also tells the reader about Bartleby isolating
himself. The phrase shows his lack of involvement, another form of
isolation. The narrator tells the reader exactly what he did to
Bartleby, very vividly, as shown below.
In the novella, the author tells the reader, down to the smallest
detail, what he did to Bartleby to isolate him from the world. He
tells us in this passage, "I placed his desk close up to a small
side window in that part of the room, a window which originally
had afforded a lateral view of certain grimy backyards, and
bricks, but which, owning to insubsequent erections, commanded at
present, no view at all, though it gave some light. Within three
feet of the panes was a wall, and the light came down from far
above between two lofty buildings, as from a very small opening in
a dome. Still further to satisfactory arrangement, I procured a
green folding screen, which might entirely isolate Bartleby from
my sight, though, not remove him from my voice." The quotation
describes how the narrator secludes Bartleby from society. Even
his window, usually a form of escape, results in Bartleby being
trapped behind another wall, thus reinforcing his total
The irony lies in the fact that the narrator, while trying to
isolate Bartleby, becomes affected by it, so much so that he
appears almost human. Instead of dismissing him on the spot for
refusing to copy, proofread or leave the premises, he tries to
find other employment for him, and even considers inviting him to
live in his residence as his guest. The narrator develops before
our eyes into a caring person, very different from the cold,
unsympathetic person at the beginning of the story. "To befriend
Bartleby, to humor him in his strange willfulness, will cost me
little or nothing, while I lay up in my soul what will eventually
prove a sweet morsel for my conscience." The narrator would
normally befriend Bartleby or any other "sucker," but Bartleby
has given him a conscience. The narrator has realized that a
common blemish in a person does not determine the person. In the
beginning of the novella, the narrator only cared about his work,
but now he realizes that people have a life outside of work,
except Bartleby. The narrator then changes into a caring person,
and tries to know Bartleby, and his odd ways, even going the extra
yard to help him. In the end, the narrator tries to save Bartleby
from his doing, Bartleby\'s undoing, Bartleby\'s isolation.
In conclusion, in real life, the strange are always isolated from
the normal. During the 1950\'s and 1960\'s, blacks were isolated,
or segregated, from society. Now, many people are isolated:
ugly, "uncool," the deformed, and people with contagious, deadly
diseases. In Bartleby\'s time, the strange were looked down upon
or ridiculed at (as in Freak Shows), so Bartleby isolated himself
permitted others to isolate him from society. Eventhough the
narrator isolated Bartleby, Bartleby brought the isolation upon
himself by living an abnormal life. By not fitting into
society, Bartleby left himself open to isolation. The three
literary elements, symbolism, descriptive passages, and irony,
described how Bartleby\'s isolation from society fit in the
novella. Jawahrlal Nehru said that isolation is dangerous, as in
Bartleby\'s case. Isolation can drive a person insane, make him
mute, or even kill him. The theme is not to let yourself succumb
to the prejudice of others, and let yourself be isolated.