The Overcoat Quotes


There is nothing more irritable than all kinds of departments, regiments, courts of justice and, in a word, every branch of public service.


In the very beginning of his story Gogol reveals all the rottenness and meanness of bureaucratic society, which is reflected in organization of every branch of public service. Bureaucracy is rather complicated, and there are rules that are to be strictly followed. It is not by chance that Gogol raises this topic in his stories, as he has the experience as a bureaucrat himself. Rules applied and followed in governments can drive people crazy, as it may take much time to take a single paper or any certificate. In theory it might work, but on practice it does not at all. There is a certain chain of applications to be submitted in order to get some help. On Bashmachkin’s example we see that this kind of established order may have a fatal outcome, as the moment he needs help, he is said in a roughly manner to follow this order. But even if he does, it won’t help, as it would be too late.

If his pay had been in proportion to his zeal, he would, perhaps, to his own surprise, have been made even a councilor of state


With these words Gogol assumes that it is not always zeal and efforts that can help a person to achieve some promotion and higher position. It much depends on person’s character and traits that he possesses. But sometimes these are mean people that have got the promotion, and do not work so hard like Bashmachkin. This issue is rather urgent, as the people should be promoted according to their quality of their work done.

Constant complaints poured in from all quarters, that the backs and shoulders, not only of titular but even of court councilors, were entirely exposed to the danger of a cold, on account of the frequent dragging off of their coats.


The news that not only titulars’ coats but court councilors’ too have being dragged off terrified people, as the possibility that individuals of higher ranks could be insulted in any way was beyond their comprehension. But for cold, which in the context is closely related to death, it makes no difference, and what the author tries to say is that all people are equal, and it is a big tragedy that this has been forgotten by many.

No respect was shown him in the department. The janitor not only did not rise from his seat when he passed, but never even glanced at him, as if only a fly had flown through the reception-room.


These words clearly explain the attitude towards Akakiy Akakievitch of everyone in the department. He is considered to be as insignificant as a fly. Usually, disrespect is provoked by some mean deeds, shameful behavior, or overall being a bad person. Bashmachkin shows none of these, and even though he is not respected. He is weak, miserable and completely unremarkable person. All the mockeries and sneers addressed to him reflect only all the baseness of those who address them. They only are showing their superiority, but it is not merited, as Bashmachkin does not answer them, he possesses none of the traits to be as lowdown as his co-workers.

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