The Overcoat Irony

The Overcoat Irony

Bashmachkin’s daring to decorate the overcoat

Gogol laughs at absurd primitiveness of Akakiy’s thoughts, thus showing his inner essence, miserable soul. “Fire gleamed in his eyes, and occasionally the boldest and most daring ideas flitted through his mind; why not, for instance, have marten fur on the collar?” The hero considers the most primitive purchase as the most important, and such thing as a marten fur seems to him as extremely significant.

Living conditions

Gogol’s raises the problem of poor living conditions of his time. The presence of beetles in the kitchen is not a surprise: “For the mistress, in cooking some fish, had raised such a smoke in the kitchen that not even the beetles were visible.” The author shows the situation in comic light to portray the squalor of atmosphere of that time and place, but to do it “smoothly”, not very harshly.

Bashmachkin’s purchase gained him respect

“All rushed at the same moment into the ante-room to inspect it. They congratulated him and said pleasant things to him.” Here we see the author’s mockery at “importance” of Akakiy’s purchase. At the same time, this mockery is sad in some way: the author shows that this small event is considered to be like a holiday.

Selfishness of Russian officials

When everyone learn of what has happened to Bashmachkin they pretend to care, but still do nothing to help. “They decided to make a collection for him on the spot, but the officials had already spent a great deal in subscribing for the director's portrait, and for some book.” Gogol laughs at the values of these people, those miserable things that they waste money on. Instead of making a good deed, they prefer to buy something that won’t be noticeable and important for anybody.

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