Contentment and Materialism in The Overcoat and The Necklace
Two well written short stories that have remarkable similarities in moral and theme are Nikolai Gogol’s The Overcoat, and Guy de Maupassant’s The Necklace. Both of these stories revolve around material items that drastically affect their lives, and they are both aptly named after those items. While The Overcoat takes place in Russia, and The Necklace takes place in France, both capture the essence of each country during a historically unique time period, although the exact time is not specifically mentioned in either story. However, both authors lived in the early nineteenth century, and the stories both have qualities that are reminiscent of fairy tales. Both messages are similar to those one might find in tales designed to support a moral message. The Overcoat and The Necklace each use opposing ideas to help support the same moral message about the materialistic world.
In the story of The Overcoat, we find a man who is content in his life. His contentment is based on not needing anything but the satisfaction of his work. The life we see in Akaky Akakievich does not need the approval of others and does not need the acquisition of things in order to achieve anything more within his self awareness. He leads a simple life that does not need, in his estimation, anything more. His attempt to repair his old overcoat is just an attempt to retain his status because he coat he owns is sufficient in his eyes. The dilemma is revealed when he cannot retain that coat, but is forced to buy another. In the symbolism of this coat, he must accept change.
In order to attain the coat, he must sacrifice. He must give up his savings and deprive himself of some of the essential things for his life in order to have enough money to purchase the new coat. Because he is used to an austere life, he is able to happily adjust to his new, more deprived, lifestyle. The narrator says, “To tell the truth, it was a...