The Overcoat

The Overcoat Summary

The Overcoat” tells the story of the life and death of Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin, an unremarkable and indeed pathetic middle-aged titular councillor and copying clerk serving in an unnamed department of the Russian civil service. Though Akaky has very little and is cruelly picked on by his coworkers, Akaky displays no discontentment with his plight, in fact even openly relishing his copying work, in which he appears to find some interesting world of his own. His life is thrown into disarray, however, when he finds that he must buy a new overcoat, a great expense for which he is unprepared. Though he is initially upset by the need for the new overcoat, he soon finds in the quest to save up for and design the new overcoat a higher purpose. The thought of the new overcoat becomes a deep comfort to him, like having a steady companion. The day he receives the coat is the happiest day of his life. However, a turn of events leads to the sudden loss of his coat, and shortly thereafter, of his own life. After his death, Akaky returns as a ghost to haunt St. Petersburg for a time, stealing coats, and in particular the coat of a general who had refused to help Akaky.