The Overcoat Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

The Overcoat Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

The Overcoat (Symbol)

The overcoat symbolizes here those miserable things, that people often value most of all. Actually, we stuck in these notions, not noticing how we become as miserable as these things. Such a trifle thing as an overcoat, which is just one of everyday necessities, becomes the most important one for Bashmachkin.

Bashmachkin (Allegory)

This person is a bright example of a “little man”. He isn’t significant in something, he is just one among others. Gogol intentionally gives him a simple, primitive surname to show that he’s insignificant as well, that he does not stand out of others.

“A prominent personage” (Allegory)

“The best thing for him, therefore, would be to apply to a certain prominent personage; since this prominent personage, by entering into relations with the proper persons, could greatly expedite the matter. As there was nothing else to be done, Akakiy Akakievitch decided to go to the prominent personage. What was the exact official position of the prominent personage remains unknown to this day. The reader must know that the prominent personage had but recently become a prominent personage, having up to that time been only an insignificant person.

The author intentionally doesn’t give this person any name or some individuality, thus he wants to show that there are a lot of such people around us: ones who want to be more respected than they deserve, they always humiliate those people, who are weaker than they, who are not able to hit them back. The repetition of words “prominent personage” produces an ironic effect, and thus creating an impression that this person is anything but important. In this way Gogol criticizes the bureaucratic system of Russian society of that time.

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