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In Nikolai Gogol's, "The Nose," Gogol writes this short story in order to satire the Russian culture in the nineteenth century. Gogol also concentrates on the issues of the different social classes and how significant it is to have a rank. This short story seems to become a dream after Kovalev wakes up to find that his nose is missing. The title plays a crucial role, "Nos" spells "Son" backwards, which translates to "dream" in Russian. This short story also touches on the portrayal of woman in the nineteenth century.
In this story, the plot plays an important role. The story starts off by an introduction, "On 25 March an unusually strange event occurred in St. Petersburg" (page 1). This shows when and where the story is taking place, which is the day that a barber, Ivan Yakovlevich, discerns an unusual nose in the middle of his bread. He doesn't know what to do with it so he decides to get rid of it by dropping it in the street, "His one idea was to rid himself of the nose, and return quietly home" (page 2). Yakovlevich identifies the nose to be Major Kovalev's nose, a collegiate assessor whom he shaves.
Another date his repeated in the third paragraph, "The date was 7 April, and when, that morning, the major awoke as usual, and, as usual, threw a despairing glance at the mirror, he this time, beheld before him, what? - why, the nose again! Instantly he took hold of it"(page 18). This quote shows when Kovalev and his nose are reunited, on April 7th. There is a thirteen day gap in which the nose went missing and reappeared. While this occurred, Kovalev was always in the process of waking up, so could it be that he was "dreaming" all along?
This short story can evidently be compared to a dream. It seems impossible for the barber to get rid of the nose because every time he tries to do so, he gets caught. This can be compared to a dream, because usually in a dream it is hard to escape or to run away from a situation. A constable stops him and says, "No, no, friend. That is rubbish. Already I've got three barbers for the purpose, and all of them account it an honor. Now, tell me, I ask again, what you have just been doing?" (page 3). In this case, the constable is observing Yakovlevich as he tries to get rid of the nose, but just like in a dream, he cannot dispose of it because he gets caught everytime. At some point, he succeeds to drop the nose and at last get rid of it but a policeman catches him and says, ""Pick it up again! You've lost something" (page 2).
Dreams are often repetitive and towards the end of the story there is a recurrence of the same prospect. When Kovalev is at once reunited with his nose, he tries to attach it back to his face but experiences some difficulties because it always seems to fall off. As the doctor tries to readjust Kovalev's nose he states "Of course, I could stick it on again - I could do that for you in a moment; but at the same time I would assure you that your plight will only become worse as the result"(page 15). Kovelev replies saying, "Never mind, stick it on again, pray. How can I continue without a nose? Besides, things could not possibly be worse than they are now" (page 16). This shows that he constantly drops it, but tries again, just like in a dream when we try to repeat our actions when they don't succeed the first time.
This short story also portrays the attitude of woman, as Ivan's wife shows dominance and authority in the very beginning of the story, ""You brute!" she shouted frantically. "Where have you cut off that nose? You villain, you! You drunkard! Why, I'll go and report you to the police myself. You brigand, you! I have already heard from three men that, while shaving them, your pulled their noses to the point that they could hardly stand it"(page 1). As soon as she find out about the nose, she starts to criticize and insult him which demonstrates that Gogol believes that women have a higher role than men in society.
Furthermore, Kovalev believes that Madame Podtochina, his staff officer's wife, was the reason why he lost his nose in the first place. He supposes that she was mad at him for not marrying her daughter and casted a spell on him to make his nose disappear. "Yes, the truth must be that out of revenge the Staff-Officer's wife had resolved to ruin him, and hired a band of witches for the purpose, seeing that the nose could not conceivably have been cut off" (page 13). Furthermore, this shows that men were afraid of women and believed that they were witches.
Moreover, Gogol demonstrates issues of social class. He characterizes Kovalev's rank by symbolizing and emphasizing his facial hair and his clothes, "Major Kovalev was in the habit of taking a daily walk on Nevsky Prospekt in an extremely clean and well-starched shirt and collar, and in whiskers of the sortâ€¦... such whiskers run across the exact center of the cheek" (page 4). Kovalev has moved to St. Petersburg on order to achieve a higher rank and wealth. Kovalev is focused on moving forward with his career and is very confident, so confident that he demands people to call him "Major". However, his nose becomes a civil councilor which has a higher rank than being a collegiate assessor. This is seen when Gogol quotes, "The Nose did return, two minutes later. It was clad in a gold-braided, high-collared uniform, buckskin breeches, and cockaded hat. And slung beside it there was a sword, and from the cockade on the hat it could be inferred that the Nose was purporting to pass for a State Councilor" (page 5). I believe that by ranking a plain nose a civil councilor, Gogol is poking fun at the Russian society to show that even a simple body part could have a higher rank than Major Kovalev. He is representing the higher class to have no more power than any other classes. When Kovalev asks his nose to return to his face, the nose seems offended and says that he had nothing to do with him, "My dear sir, you speak in error," was its reply. "I am just myself - myself separately. And in any case there cannot ever have existed a close relation between us, for, judging from the buttons of your undress uniform, your service is being performed in another department than my own" (page 5). It is clear to see that the nose was looking down upon Kovalev, and had no type of admiration for him.
The adventure of the nose can be considered as a mockery. Social rank and power were one of the most important aspects in Russia and if a person didn't have a high rank then they were not important at all. Kovalev's nose wanted to detach itself from the rank that its owner has. The detachment of the nose symbolizes the release from power and freedom. As soon as Kovalev gets his nose back, he decides to apply for a job with a higher rank. "Next, he sought the chancery of the department where he was agitating to obtain a Vice-Governorship (or, failing that, an Administratorship), and, whilst passing through the reception vestibule, again surveyed himself in a mirror. As much in place as ever the nose was!"(page 19). When he obtains his nose back, he obtains his confidence back.
Gogol's short story, "The Nose," focuses on how crucial it is to obtain a social rank. It satires the Russian culture by giving life to a "Nose", who has a higher rank than a regular human. The women's attitude symbolizes the authority and influence they had on the men.