The Role of Social Status in Gogol’s “Overcoat”

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Bashmatchkin's friendship with his friends is totally altered by the current overcoat. The new way of interacting with coworkers is significant in light of their sudden formal engagement in celebrating his new cloak. Symbolically, this behavior means nothing more than an urge to mock him, and Bashmatchkin can't work out why they're just making fun of him. His coworkers attempt to "spray out" the coat by holiday parties that could involve drinking vodka and having festive dinner. However, Bashmatchkin declines their demands, and the dinner is held at the home of the organization's true influential founder. Realistically, he cannot serve festive dinner, as he bought the overcoat that costs 80 rubles, too expensive for him.

The interpersonal relationships between Bashmatchkin and his fellows at work modify proportionally to his interest in changes that, in his opinion, may be offered only by purchase of a new cloak. Social status makes important meaning for people as they work for official organizations that are stuck in bureaucratic regulations and strict hierarchy of set principles of power, order and command. Nikolai Gogol’s exhibits incorporated features of characteristics of realism and symbolism to address historical context for people in St.Petersburg, who were obliged by duty to be involved into formal work that brought no pleasure to them.

The dream of the new overcoat matters much for the leading character, as he tries to limit expenses by stop drinking tea on evenings, not to light candles, and even walk on streets with caution to save his boots to serve him longer. Finally, his dream came true and he ordered sewing the new overcoat that is the typical dressing style of general governors. Thereafter, attitude to him at work changed radically. His fellow clerks’ exposed sudden interest in celebrating his new overcoat. However, a poor hard worker does not even come to realize that their celebrations on the coat were fake, for from the very begging relationships among people in bureaucratic organizations depend on position and hierarchy; there is no place for honest appraisal for human identity and no perspective to grow as a person.

November 03, 2022



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