A Comparison of Tales

Topics: Nikolai Gogol, Nevsky Prospekt, Dmitri Shostakovich Pages: 4 (1342 words) Published: January 12, 2013
Compare Nikolai Gogol’s “The Overcoat” with the other St. Petersburg tales. Nikolai Gogol’s St. Petersburg stories have been interpreted as tales of social injustice, urban and human isolation, psychological studies, love stories, moralistic fables and social satires. In keeping with emerging trends of “naturalistic” writing, the stories deal with relatively lowly members of the social strata in the Petersburg bureaucracy – the everyman. This essay will compare “The Overcoat” with “Diary of a Madman” and “The Nose” and examine how each of the main characters in Gogol’s stories survives in the seemingly unnatural and fabricated world of St. Petersburg. The principal character in “The Overcoat”, Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin buries himself so deeply in his paltry work of copying documents that his work almost supersedes the actual reality in which he inhabits, he is described walking through the streets of St. Petersburg oblivious to the people around him or the rubbish being thrown out windows onto him, he sees nothing but a line of beautiful words to copy. He later does the same when obsessing about the coat which he is having made to shield him from the bitter Russian winter. This need to cloak and insulate oneself from the cold harshness of modern society is an idea which runs through these three stories, and seemed to preoccupy Gogol himself. He was a secretive person about which very little is known, he said himself in his letters “But how can one judge about a secretive person in whom everything is inside, whose character hasn’t even taken shape but who is still educating himself in his soul and whose every move produces only misunderstanding? How can one make conclusions about such a person basing oneself on a few traits which have inadvertently stuck themselves out? Won’t this be the same as to conclude about a book by a few sentences torn out of it – not in order either, but from different passages.” Gogol was interested in how the character and worth of...
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