Symbolism- a literary device used frequently to contribute to the complexity of a work. In "The Overcoat", by Nikolay Gogol, uses symbolism throughout this entire work. He uses the old dressing gown to represent his old life, and the new overcoat to represent his new life. The symbols affect the plot and the characters.
The old dressing gown represents his old life. It is plain as is Akaky Akakievich. He never does anything even halfway exciting. Most of the time he sits around copying things to practice for his job, which is by coincidence being a copier. The old coat is boring and so is Akaky Akakievich. His agenda is normally get up and go to work and then come back home and go to bed. The old coat is about to fall apart as is Akaky Akakievich. However, he is about to fall apart mentally the coat is falling apart physically.
Akaky Akakievich is going to fall apart mentally due to the extreme amounts of teasing he endures at work from all of his colleagues.
The new overcoat represents his new life. This new coat is shiny and polished up and makes people respond to Akaky Akakievich now. The way people respond to him is a warmer more comfortable way. Just as the coat is too him, warm and comfortable. Akaky's promotion may have to do with the fact that his new overcoat cost a lot of money and a more important position is cause for a more respectful look. The new overcoat may have been foreshadowing for him getting the new promotion. A loser like Akaky Akakievich with such a nice overcoat sounds a little bit "fishy." This may have implied that he was going to be moving up in the world, which eventually did happen.
The symbols affect the plot and some of the characters of this story. Plot is affected because at the beginning of the story it is about a boring, unpopular, lump of unattractiveness. This plot then quickly shifts to a story about a well-respected and fun loving man. This is a complete transformation of themes in a matter of pages. The two characters that are affected the most by symbolism are Petrovich and Akaky Akakievich. Petrovich, the cloth man who make Akaky Akakievich's new overcoat shows much of the strongest symbolism in this particular story. As Akaky Akakievich walks up the stairs to Petrovich's home he sees sewage and other grotesque things that leave him wondering who would appear at the door. When he is invited in Petrovich is sitting at his work table "drunk as a skunk" yelling at his needle to work. This symbolizes that Petrovich my not be the greatest person for Akaky Akakievich to discuss the making of his new overcoat to however, he goes on. Akaky Akakievich, being the main character, is probably affected the most out of the two. The symbols make him a much more exciting character. We as readers are left to guess what is going to happen next in Akaky Akakievich's life. Whether he is going to get married or murdered is not known till the very last paragraph.
Symbolism is apparent throughout all of "The Overcoat." The old dressing gown represents his old life. The new overcoat represents his new life, and the symbols affect the plot and characters. Symbolism- a literary device used frequently to contribute to the complexity of a work.