“The Overcoat” and “The Nose” are short stories written by the famous Ukranian author Nikolai Gogol that were published in 1842. These two short stories became classic of Russian literature and even today have their actuality and significance. The stories highlight another side of St. Petersburg’s life, and Gogol makes it in satiristic and, in some cases, surrealistic way. “The Overcoat” and “The Nose” describe the differnce in the social hierchy and also include some mystery and surreal themes that add value to the stories. These surreal themes show the real idea and goal of the stories and involve readers into exciting and interesting world.
Gogol is one of the most significant writers who influenced not only Russian and Ukranian authors, but also litterateurs all over the world. His approaches to literature became innovative and even today his works cause many disputes and large expression. Gogol’s works have a deep sense that is necessary to be read behind the lines. In addition, the author describes almost dramatic cases in sarcastic and sometimes funny way. He can highlight simple things, however, with a help of perfect writing style and significant writing approaches, they may become deeper and consequently, readers understand the main idea that the author was willing to convey. Gogol is a prominent author who differs from other ones because of using sarcastic and surrealistic themes in his works.
His famous stories “The Overcoat” and “The Nose” have similar approaches in writing, as well as the main idea and surreal topics. Gogol uses this approach in many of his works, and these supernatural issues help in showing the real deep sense and imagery. These two stories have one significant idea that the author was willing to convey. Gogol wanted to depict the reality of life in St. Peterburg where the major values of society are surronded by wealth, status and image. The author adds supernatural themes to demonstrate superfiviality of the real world, its values and norms.
In “The Overcoat” the main character is Akaky Akakievich, an impoverished government clerk and copyst who is working in the capital of the Russian Empire – St. Petersburg. He is a dedicated and hardworking person, loyal and responsible, however, not ambitious and initiative. The writer notes, “Outside this copying, it appeared that nothing existed for him. He gave no thought to his clothes: his undress uniform was not green, but a sort of rusty- meal colour“ (Gogol, 1992, p. 103). Gogol uses a very interesting writing style in this story. On the first look, he describes a simple character and his ordinary life, which in reality does not cause any interest. Nevertheless, Gogol describes every detail in his own significant style, with deep and sarcastic expression. As a result, the protagonist became very interesting for the readers. Akaky Akakievich makes his boring and not necessary work day by day. He was proposed to more responsible work, but refused it as he was scared, and stayed on his routine and simple work. His collegues usually laugh at him; however, Akaky Akakievich does not want to notice this. He lives with a smile on his face and agrees with the life he has.
One day, he noticed that his overcoat is supposed to be repaired; so he decided to go to his tailor. The tailor told him that he should buy the new one as the old overcoat is not possible to repair. This ordinary case consequently refers to the plot of the story; however, its sense is deeper. Akaky Akakievich does not have enough money to buy the new overcoat. He saves his budget all the time, and even his collegues feel sorry for him. Nonetheless, he gets higher bonus in the end of the year and buys a new overcoat. After this purchase, his collegues started to respect him giving him compliments all the time, and Akaky Akakievich definitely enjoys this new feeling. Nevertheless, on the way home, two men ‘with moustage’ ropped him and stole this overcoat. After this unexpected incident, the main hero was trying to ask for a help from the police and one promonent man, but no one wanted even to listen to him as he was of lower status. Gogol described the real attitude of superiors towards subordinated in simple phrase of the promonant man.
The prominent personage was in his cabinet conversing gaily with an old acquaintance and companion of his childhood whom he had not seen for several years and who had just arrived when it was announced to him that a person named Bashmatchkin had come. He asked abruptly, “Who is he?” – “Some official,” he was informed. “Ah, he can wait! This is no time for him to call,” said the important man (Gogol, 1992).
In this phrase, the real neglect of officials towards ordinary people is evident. As a result, Akaky Akakievich did not get any support and died in a fever. After his death, a ghost began to terrify the people in Petersburg willing to steal their evercoats. This supernatural power in Gogol’s story signifies the oppression towards the beurocratic machine of the society of that time. In addition, Gogol describes the apperiance of another character – the second ghost, but this time with moustache who also terrifies people on the streets. Gogol referred these supernatural powers to the oppression forces and depicted the ghosts as the result of beurocratic system, where every criminal is a consequence of superior’s pressure.
The second story – “The Nose” – also has supernatural appearance that shows the reality and norms of society where the most important values are status and wealth. The protagonist of the story one morning has recognized that his nose disappeared. He starts to search for his nose asking for a help in different instances, but as the main hero of “The Overcoat,” nobody aids him for the same reason. Therefore, he found his nose in the coat and dress of the person who has higher status in the civil service. The story ended with happy ending where the main character, Major Kovalyov, found his nose on his face one morning and continued his happy life. The protagonist of the story is a very ambitious person, and career is the most significant desire for him. The story has many similiarities in the plot with the previous one: both the nose and overcoat signified the social status. According to this story, the nose is the reflection of the main hero’s will and desires. The nose is “dressed” in a dress of his required status. There are many disputes as for the meaning of the nose. Some opinions suggest that the nose has a sense of “castration desire” of the character. “He wanted to shove it under something, either under the seat by the gates or drop it, as it were, by accident and then turn off into a side street” (Gogol, 1992). This quotation illustrates his desperation to get rid of Ivan the phallic object, and gives no indication that he is afraid of losing it. In this story, supernatural appearance helps in reading behind the lines and highlights the real desires of the main hero through which the values and flaws of the society are seen. “Perfect nonsense goes on in the world. Sometimes there is no plausibility at all” (Gogol, 1992).
Gogol also uses some other literary methods, such as narrative and rethorical devices. Gogol uses narrative to convey his main ideas to the readers in dialoges or his own opinions. Another literary device is rhetorical one, where he uses humor, sarcasm and different metaphors to emphasize the major idea. All of his works, especially “The Overcoat” and “The Nose,” are full of rhetorical devices, especially woth irony and sarcasm as it brings to the plot more value and helps its readers to understand the ideas of the author deeper and reduce the dramatism in the main plot of these stories.
In conclusion, Gogol is one of the most significant Ukranian authors that became famous in Rissian Empire and abroad. His notable stories – “The Overcoat” and “The Nose” – show the real values of the St. Petersburg’s society of the 18th-19th centuries. After analysis of the stories, it becomes evident that they have simliar approaches in writing, as well as the main idea and surreal topics. The author adds supernatural themes to show superfiviality of the real world, its values and norms. The characters live in the beurocratic world where the major values are wealth, status, and image. The supernatural appearence in these stories helps in understanding the main idea that Gogol was willing to convey, and highlight the deep sense and opposition against the exsisting norms and values of society.