A Whisper Of Change. Speaks Of Nikolay Gogol's Novel, "The Overcoat"

969 words - 4 pages

At first glance of Nikolay Gogol's novel The Overcoat, one would only see a shortstory about a poor man wishing to survive in a cruel world. However, in looking furtherinto the story, deep symbolism can be found. Gogol lived in Russia during the rise of thecommunist party, and was a great dissident of communism. He believed the inevitable endof a communist government was total failure. He also criticized the other government ofthe world for failing to aid Russia in its quest for a better system. Gogol used his creativemind and his writing abilities to speak out against the evils of the Russian government. Heused symbolism to prove his points, and often risked exile by his own government forexpressing such radical views. Many different objects in The Overcoat can be mirroredwith the objects of true life. Everything from Akaky Akakyevitch's coat, to hisadministrator is used by Gogol to symbolize the situation of Russia during Gogol's time.In truth, the Russian government was against the free-thinking man, and so was againstGogol.Akaky himself is used as a symbol of the Russian people. The communists wereagainst any sort of free-thinking, and respected any man who performed his duties withoutquestion. Akaky is described in the story as being a quiet, hard-working man. He keepsmostly to himself, having very little to do with the outside world. His entire life centersaround his profession. Akaky's life changes only after he buys his new overcoat. Theovercoats in the story symbolize different governments. Akaky's original 'dressingjacket,' is the Russian government in power before communism took over. Thegovernment, like the overcoat, once served its purpose, but is now worn thin and needs areplacement. The original color of the coat cannot even be seen anymore. Each time atear appears in the coat, it is patched and forgotten, but the coat eventually cannot bepatched any longer. Akaky is extremely hesitant in buying a new coat, claiming it wouldbe too expensive. This compares to the hesitation of the Russian population to switch to anew government. However, the coat no longer serves its intended purpose, and Akaky isforced to either purchase a new coat or freeze in the cold. Akaky's new coat symbolizesthe establishment of communism over the Russian people. At first, the coat serves itspurpose, keeping Akaky warm. Though it looks nice and expensive, the overcoat isactually made of fairly cheap materials. The overcoat gives Akaky a quick glance ofhappiness, but is quickly stolen by robbers on the street. Gogol uses the new overcoat tomake a statement about the communistic government. In the beginning years ofcommunism, the people of Russia believed the system to be efficient and superior to allothers, yet the government eventually proved to be a failure, falling far short of thepeople's expectations.Akaky's fellow workers, the other clerks in the office, are symbolic of othercountries. The clerks neglected Akaky and teased him about his old coat, but...

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