Gogol's The Overcoat: A Whisper of Change
At first glance of Nikolay Gogol's novel The Overcoat, one would only see a short story about a poor man wishing to survive in a cruel world. However, in looking further into the story, deep symbolism can be found. Gogol lived in Russia during the rise of the communist party, and was a great dissident of communism. He believed the inevitable end of a communist government was total failure. He also criticized the other government of the world for failing to aid Russia in its quest for a better system. Gogol used his creative mind and his writing abilities to speak out against the evils of the Russian government. He used symbolism to prove his points, and often risked exile by his own government for expressing such radical views. Many different objects in The Overcoat can be mirrored with the objects of true life. Everything from Akaky Akakyevitch's coat, to his administrator 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 against Gogol.
Akaky himself is used as a symbol of the Russian people. The communists were against any sort of free-thinking, and respected any man who performed his duties without question. Akaky is described in the story as being a quiet, hard-working man. He keeps mostly to himself, having very little to do with the outside world. His entire life centers around his profession. Akaky's life changes only after he buys his new overcoat. The overcoats in the story symbolize different governments. Akaky's original "dressing jacket," is the Russian government in power before communism took over. The government, like the overcoat, once served its purpose, but is now worn thin and needs a replacement. The original color of the coat cannot even be seen anymore. Each time a tear appears in the coat, it is patched and forgotten, but the coat eventually cannot be patched any longer....
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