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'Bartleby the Scrivener' Quotes

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Study Guide Moby Dick. The story is often studied in literature classrooms. Melville was one of the greatest writers in American literature of his time. Here are a few quotes from the short story. "Bartleby the Scrivener" Quotes
  • "I would prefer not to."
    - Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"

  • "Dead letters! does it not sound like dead men? Conceive a man by nature and misfortune prone to a pallid hopelessness, can any business seem more fitting to heighten it than that of continually handling these dead letters, and assorting them for the flames?"
    - Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"

  • "Sometimes from out the folder paper the pale clerk takes a ring-the finger it was meant for, perhaps, moulders in the grave; a bank- note sent in swiftest charity-he whom it would relieve, nor eats nor hungers any more…on errands of life, these letters speed to death. Ah, Bartleby! Ah, humanity!"
    - Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"

  • "As I lay in my hammock that night, overhead I heard the slow weary draggings of the three ponderous strangers along the encumbered deck. Their stupidity or their resolution was so great that they never went aside for any impediment. One ceased his movements altogether just before the mid-watch."
    - Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"

  • "At sunrise I found him butted like a battering ram against the immovable foot of the foremast, and still striving, tooth and nail, to force the impossible passage. That these tortoises are the victims of a penal, or malignant, or perhaps a downright diabolical, enchanter, seems in nothing more likely than in that strange infatuation of hopeless toil which so often possesses them. I have known them in their journeyings ram themselves heroically against rocks, and long abide there, nudging, wriggling, wedging, in order to displace them, and so hold on their inflexible path. Their crowning curse is their drudging impulse to straightforwardness in a belittered world."
    - Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"

  • "But some dull sense of another body that should be interred, of another cross that should hallow another grave-unmade as yet-some dull anxiety and pain touching her undiscovered brother, now haunted the oppressed Hunilla. Her hands fresh from the burial earth, she slowly went back to the beach, with unshaped purposes wandering there, her spellbound eye bent upon the incessant waves. But they bore nothing to her but a dirge, which maddened her to think that murderers should mourn."
    - Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"

  • "When at ease with respect to exterior things, Captain Delano's nature was not only benign, but familiarly and humorously so. At home, he had often taken rare satisfaction in sitting in his door, watching some free man of colour at his work or play. If on a voyage he chanced to have a black sailor, invariably he was on chatty, and half-gamesome terms with him. In fact, like most men of a good, blithe heart, Captain Delano took to Negroes, not philanthropically, but genially, just as other men to Newfoundland dogs."
    - Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"

  • "But you were forced to it; and you were in time undeceived. Would that, in both respects, it was so ever, and with all men."
    - Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"

  • "I think I understand you; you generalize, Don Benito; and mournfully enough. But the past is passed; why moralize upon it? Forget it. See, yon bright sun has forgotten it all, and the blue sea, and the blue sky; these have turned over new leaves."
    - Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"

  • "Because they have no memory... because they are not human."
    - Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"

  • "You are saved, Don Benito... you are saved; what has cast such a shadow upon you?"
    - Herman Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"

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