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Cubicle Slaves

             A Compare-Contrast Evaluation of "Bartleby the Scrivener" and "Office Space".
             The cinematic comedy "Office Space" created by the mind of Mike Judge is arguably an accurate present-day rendition of "Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville. Although 150 years passed between the creation of the classic short story and the film, they both possess similarities in plot, theme, and character development. Each story is about work that crushes the spirit. They explain that office cubicles are cells, supervisors are the wardens, and the management theory is skewed, corrupt, and completely unappealing to the common employee. Whether a carbon copy of Melville's story was Judge's intention or not; the two stories possess strong comparisons and similarities which mock the stale, numbing existence of American office life.
             The protagonists in each circumstance represent similar beliefs, only the setting of the stories drastically vary. The movie stars Ron Livingston as Peter Gibbons, a discontented cubicle jockey at a nondescript computer firm whose ears ring at night with the sounds of the office and who spends his Friday afternoons dodging boss after boss to avoid mandates of weekend overtime. "Bartleby the Scrivener" centers on a scrivener, or a copyist, for a law firm on Wall Street. The story is narrated by the lawyer, the man who employs Bartleby and later learns that Bartleby's work habits are in a constant state of decline much like those of Peter Gibbons.
             As "Office Space" opens, Peter is being reminded by his smarmy supervisor that all reports now carry a cover sheet. "Yes, I know," he says. "I forgot. It was a silly mistake. It won't happen again." Before long another manager reminds him about the cover sheets. "Yes, I know," he says. Then another manager. And another. Logic suggests that when more than one supervisor conveys the same trivial information, their jobs overlap, which results in a very destructive work atmosphere.

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