The Nose Quotes


"Sure enough, the Nose did return, two minutes later. It was clad in a gold-braided, high-collared uniform, buckskin breeches, and cockaded hat. And slung beside it there was a sword, and from the cockade on the hat it could be inferred that the Nose was purporting to pass for a State Councilor. It seemed now to be going to pay another visit somewhere. At all events it glanced about it, and then, shouting to the coachman, "Drive up here," reentered the vehicle, and set forth."

Narrator and Kovalev

The nose in this point in the story is outranking Kovalev, his owner. This is a great example of irony, and illustration of the theme of social class and order. It is highly absurd to think a nose would outrank his owner, so it makes it improbable, but it is suggesting it is implausible not impossible, even if it was a dream, for Kovalev later has to make sure of his identity by looking for his reflection in the mirror. Even though at this point Kovalev is outranked by the nose, Kovalev still outranks the cabman who he tells to chase the nose.

Barber Ivan Yakovlevitch, a dweller on the Voznesensky Prospekt (his last name is lost now—it no longer figures on a signboard bearing a portrait of a gentleman with a soaped cheek, and the words: "Also, Blood Let Here") […] Raising himself a little, he perceived his wife (a most respectable lady, and one especially fond of coffee)

The Narrator

Illustrating the theme of identity, a barber without a last name suggests the barber is a bastard and makes his issue skeptical to us and less honorable, and when we later compare him to Kovalev in similarity, who calls himself a Major when he really isn't, we find they are both a lot alike. Also, suggesting "blood-letting" done here, and since the barber in a sense "castrated" the Major, it is alluding to the fact that he was a prominent figure, serving a partiarchial role in Major Kovalev's life. The barber thinks of his wife, and her love for nothing but coffee.

Then [Kovalev] halted as though riveted to earth. For in front of the doors of a mansion he saw occur a phenomenon of which, simply, no explanation was possible. Before that mansion there stopped a carriage. And then a door of the carriage opened, and there leapt thence, huddling himself up, a uniformed gentleman, and that uniformed gentleman ran headlong up the mansion's entrance-steps, and disappeared within. And oh, Kovalev's horror and astonishment to perceive that the gentleman was none other than—his own nose!

The Narrator

Illustrates the theme of supernatural. A nose coming to life...walking, talking, and being dressed in uniform. This is surrealism and absurdism at its finest. The separation between the organ which symbolizes a phallic symbol and the organism (body and mind) is a removal of a piece of the man, so part of the man takes form as a man itself. In the dream, Kovalev imagines the nose as a living, breathing thing and the absurdity of the situation makes him feel so small that the nose has outranked him.

"Stop, Prascovia Osipovna! I'll wrap it in a rag, in some corner: leave it there for awhile, and afterwards I'll take it away." […] But at last he got out, and donned waistcoat and shoes, wrapped the nose in a rag, and departed amid Prascovia Osipovna's forcible abjurations. His one idea was to rid himself of the nose, and return quietly home—to do so either by throwing the nose into the gutter in front of the gates or by just letting it drop anywhere. Yet, unfortunately, he kept meeting friends, and they kept saying to him: "Where are you off to?" or "Whom have you arranged to shave at this early hour?" until finding a suitable moment became impossible.

Narrator, Ivan Yakovlevich, Friends

Illustrates the theme of fear. Ivan Yakovlevich is unable to commit to a plan of action. He is a reactive character, to all the characters he meets such as the Nose, the Constable, his Wife, Kovalev, and his friends. He shares a lot in common with Kovalev himself, who, too, is a reactive character. They both fear "domination", only in the dream, Yakovlevich is in possesion of his nose (Kovalev's), metaphorically a sign for castration, which makes the barber anxious about his own castration.

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