In Nikolai Gogol’s short story “The Overcoat”, one sees that in life, bad things can happen to undeserving people, with no rhyme or reason. Justice is not a prevalent force in the world that Gogol describes. Hard work and diligence count for nothing in the eyes of fate. In this world, misfortune falls upon any victim, with little–if any–positive outcome.
The story follows one Akakii Akakievich through his daily life as a government clerk. He performs his duties extraordinarily well, yet never obtains a higher position in life, nor does he desire one. He lives on a meager salary that is so poor, that when his coat starts to fall apart from wear, he must endure months of hardship and deprivations to save up enough money to purchase a new coat. Almost as soon as he obtains the coat it is stolen from him in the streets. Akakii seeks help from the guard, and from government officials, but no help is to be found. With only his old worn out garment, Akakii falls ill and dies. His office finds out that he is dead only because he failed to show up for work.
The most blatant sign that life is cruel is the very fact that Akakii has his coat stolen just as soon as he gets it (94).
This is a particularly cruel twist for several reasons. Firstly, Gogol makes a point to mention that the new coat had arrived just in time for the bitterest cold of the season (90).
Secondly, Akakii was returning from a party that he had been invited to expressly for the purpose of celebrating his new coat (91).
The book Things Fall Apart , by Chinua Achebe , is very similar to the poem , "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats. A comparison of "The Second Coming" to Things Fall Apart will show many corresponding aspects between both of these literary masterpieces. Seeing the line "Things fall apart" in the poem , Achebe makes an outstanding association. At this point in time he says to himself, "I ...
Finally, Akakii had endured many months of deprivation to be able to afford the new coat that he barely had any time to enjoy (88).
Akakii’s misfortune does not end with the loss of his coat. He seeks redress from the guard that was on duty–only to find that he was not paying attention at the moment of the crime (94).
Akakii then attempts to see the Superintendent, but leaves confused and not sure that his case will be given any attention at all (95).
Akakii next seeks aid from a man identified by Gogol only as a Prominent Personage: Akakii is now desperate for justice. The Official makes Akakii wait and then humiliates him without ever being concerned about the stolen coat; he seems more interested in impressing a friend that was in the room than in providing Akakii with justice (98).
One might think that Akakii can now cut his loses and continue with his humble existence as he had before, but almost as if to add insult to injury, Akakii falls ill coming home from the Official’s home because he is wearing his old threadbare coat (98).
In his feverish state Akakii falls into near madness; he imagines that he still owns his new coat, and demands to know where it is (99).
Akakii’s death is as unimpressive as his life. His landlady is advised to order a pine coffin, as an oaken one would be too expensive for Akakii to afford (98).
The government office for which Akakii works finds out about his demise in a most unusual manner: a man is sent to his apartment to inquire as to why he had not been to work in several days (99).
There are some that would contend that although severe misfortunes did fall upon our friend Akakii, the story is not without any positive aspect. The opposing side would argue that characters could grow because of suffering and eventually come out for the better. I do not see this as the case. Akakii experiences a renewed sense of excitement in his days leading up to his new coat, but they are based on materialistic desires, and when his prize possession is taken from him, we see that Akakii is no more stronger than he was in the beginning of the story. Other characters seem to make a few good choices because of the tragedy. For instance, the official that Akakii goes to for help decides to head home to his wife and family instead of to his mistress as he had intended. This too I see as a small gain, because he does so not out of any improvement in his moral character, but because he is frightened by an apparition of Akakii, come to seek revenge for the loss of his coat.
The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. This statement explains a major theme in the novel Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. Everyone has dreams, and the characters in the novel are no different. But sometimes these dreams and aspirations can be shattered. The theme of broken dreams reoccurs in this novel through many characters, such as Lennie, George, Candy and Crooks. Lennie and ...
The story, “The Overcoat”, is overall a depressing story with not much in the way of life lessons. It tells the tale of a sad little man, who is used and abused by the world, and is struck down by the harsh realities of life. In my opinion, neither his life, nor his death affected anyone in the story for the better.