Symbols are seen everyday in peoples lives, whether they symbol is seen frequently, or rarely seen, whether the symbol is lucid or obscured, the symbol always has a meaning, and this is apparent in The Overcoat, by Nikol Golgol. In attempt to explain how an ordinary thing had the ability to become such an influential symbol to a poor, lonely man, I will state how the symbol reached the point of its highly influential symbolic status. I will also explain how the symbol affected the man, and the role this symbol plays in this work of literature. Akakay is a man, who in the beginning of the story, lacks the items and mentality to make himself socially accepted. This seems to be mainly because of his hideously worn-out overcoat. At last he realizes that a new overcoat is necessary, and there is no way of going around it, but the process of achieving a new overcoat is full of personal sacrifices Akaky must take.
Akaky must be careful with his boots, walking more careful than usual to make sure the soles do not wear out as quickly. He must also limit the use of candles so he will not have to buy as many, spending precious rubles that could be spent toward obtaining the new overcoat. He is even so intent on saving money, he makes himself take his work clothes off as soon as he gets home, so they do not become dirty, because the more he has to do laundry, the longer it will take him to get his new overcoat. Sacrifices seem to make the value of an item increase and it seems through this process Akakys new overcoat becomes tremendously important to him than it would for a rich person, who would not have to sacrifice anything for something such as a new coat. As soon as Akaky finally obtains the new overcoat, people treat him differently instantaneously As he goes into work that day, instead of being mocked and sneered at, he seems to become an instant celebrity, with everyone coming up to him and giving their congratulations on his brand new coat. The coat has a profoundly positive effect on Akakys self esteem, he starts noticing women and just basically enjoying life.
Akakay even gets invited to a party, all because of his new coat. Akaky definitely thought more of himself after he got the coat, and so did many other people. Clearly, the overcoat is a symbol portraying something much deeper than what it presents on the surface, just like most symbols. I am sure there are many different ways to interpret the symbol, and out of these I have found two, one of which I will elaborate on. Nikol Golgol seemed to dislike authority from what I gathered, by the story and the questions following it, and this story could be a stab towards society.
Human beings always judge people on physical appearance, therefore, in this civilized society, one must look their best in order to be accepted and become successful. This was expressed by Akaky, who maybe should not have cared so much about what the rest of the world thought, and should have just tried to make himself happy. It shows the way society operates, whether that is good or bad. Akaky was the same person all along, people just never took the time to get to know him or to try and get him involved with their activities.
The Overcoat is a story that should make anyone who reads it re-evaluate themselves. Akaky, along with the rest of society, have that which Akaky gained through the coat, whether it is brought on by our need to fit in with society, or our need to clash with society, whether it is a large amount, a small amount, clearly found, or hard to grasp, we all just need something.