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Satire And Critique In Dead Soul By Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol

1259 words - 6 pages

глупые дворяне:
A Satire for the Ages
Satirical fiction, although unique and one of a kind in its nature, has continued to be an enthralling and captivating subject out of the plethora of themes that exist throughout literature history and thrive to this day. While the many forms of humor that appear throughout a novel, from comical, ironic characters to witty, exaggerated plots, are often considered tame and childish themes, authors, skillful and clever alike, are able to utilize such forms of humor and transform them into a means of stirring emotion within their audiences, in order to deliver logical, yet powerful messages. For centuries, authors have used satires as devices to not only ...view middle of the document...

But as Tchitchikov visits individual after individual, the honest picture of the “hero” is slowly unveiled—thus the very first message Gogol delivers is not to judge any noble by mere appearance. Although Tchitchikov does indeed possess many great social qualities, he uses them only to his advantage. Tchitchikov sweet talks every noble he encounters and, whether it be by overpowering them with intellect or by playing them with words, forces them to give him the dead “souls” that he desires. In addition, Tchitchikov, throughout the account, continues to resort to immoral decisions. While he had gained many friends of high status in the town of N, he finds himself abusing their kindness and hospitality to try and get rich, which ultimately ruins him soon after. A second time, while having the opportunity to settle down and earn money honestly, he finds himself getting caught up in a scandal. Gogol very comically criticizes how, unless deciding to change, Russian nobles, in their pride and greed, will continue to make the same mistakes, time and time again.
Another means by which Gogol is able to present a satire of Russian life is the portrayal of women throughout the novel. The first woman Tchitchikov encounters is Madame Korobotcha. It can be seen that he converses with her with less decorum and in a less dignified manner as compared to other nobles he had visited. Soon after, he unexpectedly meets the Governor’s daughter, whose beauty he begins to fantasize about. Here, Gogol satirizes the status of women in the post-Napoleonic Russian society. Noble or not, woman are seen as objects of desire, and are not even treated with common courtesy. Gogol depicts how the treatment of serfs and women are only so different, and how the Russian noblemen care not for a soul, unless it is to please the nobles themselves. Gogol later introduces Sofia and Anna, the only females other than Korobocha whose names are mentioned in the novel. Sofia and Anna, much like the other women in the town, start to gossip about rumors regarding Tchitchikov. While they do not know about what really happened, they begin to formulate stories from nothing and spew tales of lies. Soon enough, every man, woman, peasant, and hermit has heard the gossip concerning Tchitchikov. As the gossip continues to change from person to person, it escalates to the point where even a certain prosecutor is so shocked by what he has heard that he drops dead. Although the prosecutor’s death was undoubtedly caused by some sort of illness or heart attack, because of its occurrence in the midst of all the drama, even it was blamed on Tchitchikov. At this point, Gogol takes his mockery of Russian society to a new height of absurdity. Gossip...

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