The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol

 At the outset of The Overcoat Akakii is a naïve childlike character who lives a life of almost spiritual-like devotion and ascetic simplicity. Explain the role of the grotesque in the story. How does the prospect of a new overcoat alter Akakii’s existence? Is his life altered for worse or for the better as a result of this change? Is the overcoat the symbol of spiritual perfection or base materialistic desire in the story? Are the sacrifices that Akakii makes for the sake of the overcoat evidence of his spiritual re-birth or his moral downfall? Why doesn’t Akaki’s happiness endure? How does the loss of the overcoat transform him from a silent victim into an intrepid hero? Does Akakii’s revenge restore to him human dignity, if only in death, or does it merely turn him into one of his tormentors?

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