Bartleby is a scrivener that answers an ad of the office where the narrator (the boss) and Nippers and Turkey (two scriveners) work. The narrator, first, imagines that Bartleby will calm the temperaments of the other scriveners. However, when he listens to the first of Bartleby's many refusals, the dismay of the narrator and the irritation of the other employees are explicit.
Bartleby does not seem to have place in society. When he is asked about something, he always says: "I would prefer not to". The story happens in a Wall Street office, a place of movement. Bartleby is the irony of the story. He is the contrast, a stationary character.
There is also the idea of conformity against nonconformity. Bartleby insists on his "I would prefer not to". In the end of the story, he dies from starvation because he "preferred no to" eat. At the same time, the movement in Wall Street does not stop. That is society's progress.