Russian Lit Essay

This essay has a total of 1182 words and 5 pages.

Russian Lit



Ryan R. Ballecer
Paper #1
Russian Masterpieces

The Poor People of Society

It is the aim of this paper to bring forth an interpretation of the "poor people" as
portrayed by three different examples of Russian literature. The Diary of a Madman, The
Overcoat, and Taman serve as the sources for any assumptions and conclusions drawn out in
this paper. All three of these works lead the reader to draw assumptions about the "poor
person's" social status, desires, and weaknesses.

In Gogol's short story, The Diary of a Madman we are entranced by the diary entries of one
man. This man is a civil service clerk who is held in little regard in society. He
mentions several times how even people of lower positions then himself show him no
respect. "They're always sprawled out in the entrance hall, not even bothering to
acknowledge my existence with a little nod (Gogol, p.11)." His superiors look down on him
while no one is looking up at him.

One thing that is interesting is how this man copes with this fact. Although we hear him
many times acknowledge the fact that he is of low social standing and of his low funds he
never fully accepts that this is his life. For example, when he is speaking to the
Divisional Chief he says that this man must be jealous of him. He states, " Wait my friend
I'll go higher then you yet, and God willing, much, much higher. Then I'll be of good
social position beyond your dreams (p.13)."

As his diary entries continue, his rational thought begins to deteriorate. He eventually
believes that he is the new King of Spain as he finally confirms in his own mind the fact
that his life was not supposed to be as low class as it was. "It's incredible to me that
I could have imagined that I was a civil servant clerk (p.22)."

In another one of Gogol's short stories The Overcoat, we meet a new character by the name
of Akaky Akakievich. Just like the man in The Diary of a Madman, Akaky is a ninth class
clerk. He is fated to a life without much money and low social standing as predicted at
his christening as he "cried and twisted his features into a sour expression." (p. 69).

His position in the workplace reflected how people treated him. "In the office not the
slightest respect was shown him. The porters didn't even raise their eyes, as if nothing
but an ordinary fly had passed through the reception room. (p. 70). Unlike the madman,
Akaky was very accepting of his life. In fact he loved his job and when given a promotion
because of his dedication to it, he turned it down. Even though he had to struggle with
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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