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Written by Timothy Sexton
Gogol himself had what many consider to be a long, beak-like nose that may have been less attractive than he desired. Scholarship has in the 20th century proposed that one of the underlying themes of the story is thus a subconscious fear of castration projected from his genitals to his nose. Obviously, this is a thematic interpretation that defies what may be termed as “proof” but is offered an example of the elasticity of Freudian interpretation and how it has proven to be far more useful in literary theory than psychoanalytical theory over the last century.
Satire of Russian Bureaucracy
Or, for that matter, any bureaucracy. Anyone who has so much as had to jump through the hoops at their local DMV can no doubt feel a certain empathetic kinship with the protagonist in his frustration with the bureaucratic madness with which he must deal for what seems a rather unsettling and unusual emergency not necessarily deemed to be so by those charge.
“The Nose” prefigures the rise of Absurdism in the 20th century and the narrator even pops up at the end to bring up the whole question of just how absurd the story is. Gogol may leave the reader with this idea as a way of suggesting that not every story has to actually mean something. Sometimes stories can just be entertainment. Of course, if that’s the case, then this interpretation is debunked since what he is really saying that is that the story is more than mere entertainment.
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