Ah Bartleby, Ah Humanity!- This is the key to the short story by Herman Melville "Bartleby-, because it indicates that the image of Bartleby stands as a symbol for humanity on a universal level. This story is appealing for its symbolism. This, in turn, functions as a commentary on society and the working world. Bartleby is a seemingly homeless, mentally disturbed scrivener who gives up on the prospect of living life and alienates himself from it. Bartleby embodies many -conflicts- of humanity such as mortality, alienation, and man's desire for peace. With these characteristics, the last line of this short story is very significant.
As one of the "conflicts- embodied by Bartleby, mortality plays an unusual role. Death pervades in the story but not as the end of somebody's life, but as a kind of living death. The act of living is the real death for Bartleby. Life to this strange and mysterious man seems full of meaningless tasks and hard times that he prefers not to take apart in. As said in the story, " happiness courts the light, so we deem the world is gay; but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery there is none,"" society tends to take in the happy light and block the misery. No one realizes that Bartleby is miserable in his own skin, even the narrator seems to un-notice his sadness.
The only means of protection that Bartleby had against the world is to alienate himself from it. While working as a scrivener, he began to alienate himself from his coworkers. He cut off all communication from them only responding to their questions and comments with "I would prefer not to."" He did not socialize with anyone; he stayed confined in his little corner on Wall Street, seemingly perfectly content with being alone. When Bartleby is sent to prison, even then he separates himself from the rest of the prisoners and workers. There in this "tomb- Bartleby dies alone, alienated from society, and humanity.