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Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol's The Overcoat is a humanitarian and mystical short story about the dreary life of a low class man.

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Introduction

A Revolution through Literature Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol's The Overcoat is a humanitarian and mystical short story about the dreary life of a low class man. Akaky Akakievich is a forlorn copying clerk in a stuffy government office. He is wholly devoted to his routine and monotonous copying, so much so that the continuous mocking and ridicule in the office do not keep him away from his work. Akaky orders a new overcoat after saving and making other privations. He lavishes attention on it, selects the color and the fabric out of love and longing, and waits desperately for its completion, only to have it stolen off his back the first day he wears it. This literal level of the story is full of images and symbols which have a latent meaning that Gogol is trying to communicate. In The Overcoat he contrasts meekness and humility of the normal man with rudeness of the so called 'important personage'. ...read more.

Middle

They act as if he has been promoted and the new overcoat signifies this rise in stature. New doors open up for him and he is invited to a party. His entire routine changes that day as he does not work at home after dinner as he usually does, and walks the streets of the better part of town. The systems' flaws are evident when other people tell Akaky that he should go straight to the district commissioner as the local police officer would deceive him or better still he should go see an important official to get his work done. Even Akaky's new overcoat and status afford him little protection from the world around him since rank is relative. The Person of Consequence, whom Akaky goes to for help to get his coat back, is more important in comparison. Here he represents the bureaucrats who take themselves so seriously that they are simply a step away from comparing themselves to God. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is where the story takes on a revolutionary character and warns the bureaucrats that they must pay for their abuse. Akaky escapes the system through death, and breaks away from rank barriers. He is now able to steal overcoats from people regardless of their position. He stops appearing after he has avenged himself by stealing the coat from the Person of Consequence to show that in death he is so free that even the bureaucrat can't control him. Gogol denounces the horrors of entire rank driven 'system' in this story. While initially serving as exposure for the concerns of the generation and stirring change in the social structure of a society, in the end The Overcoat warns those responsible that the humble victims will avenge themselves. He uses literature as means of social awakening; to tell people that the existing system must be changed and the power must be taken away from such unjust bureaucrats. Harleen Guraya Revolutionizing through Literature Jennifer Reimert ENG 106-02 April 10, 2003 ...read more.

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