November 7, 2007

The Overcoat

This is a short story by Nicolai Gogol (1809-1852). This story depicts a simple civil servant, Akaky. Gogol describes character's habits and lifestyles in detail. Akaky leads an ordinary life with a low income and simple needs. Although Akaky is the central character of the story, Gogol explains in detail the society that he lives in. This gives us a glimpse into the lives of the civil servants.

Gogol builds Akaky's character by describing his unchanging daily routines and the way people at his work tease him. The story revolves around a new overcoat that Akaky needs to buy for the winter. His anticipation, planning, hopes and childlike eagerness brings our the purity of his character.

By this time the reader starts to empathize with Akaky so much that the loss of the overcoat feels tragic. Akaky's grief is explained in so much detail that you can almost feel it. Here Gogol shows the apathy of society to his seemingly small loss. But this overcoat meant everything for Akaky. The story ends with a splendid supernatural twist.

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