Literature Discussion Questions

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LiteratureDiscussion Questions

TheSignificance of Death in &quotThe Overcoat&quot and &quotThe Deathof Ivan Ilyich&quot

Nikolai Gogol`s short story, &quotThe Overcoat,&quot follows asimilar plot to Leo Tolstoy`s &quotThe Death of Ivan Ilyich.&quotGogol narrates about the life and predicament of a poor, elderly mannamed Akaky. After saving some money, Akaky buys a new overcoat thathe falls in love with before losing it to muggers. As he could notafford a new one, he dies of fever, and his ghost seeks to avenge thetheft by stealing other people`s overcoats including that of ageneral who had mistreated him. Similarly, Leo Tolstoy`s &quotTheDeath of Ivan Ilyich&quot talks about the life and mortality of ahigh court judge who lived a life devoid of love and dies a desperateman. Both stories also show that in the final days before death, menget to reflect their lives all over again.

The stories also agree that death is an important stage in life thatushers victims into a new phase of existence and knowledge. In thecase of Akaky, he transforms into a ghost and escapes human sufferingand shortcomings. Again, as a ghost, he can have many overcoats andavenge the mistreatment by the general. Similarly, death allowsIlyich to have a deeper understanding of life and human nature. Also,death rescues Ilyich from human suffering. While Akaky suffered ahumiliating and impoverished life on earth, Ilyich had a terminalillness and lived with a demanding wife.

The two stories also differ on their views on the role of death. In&quotThe Overcoat,&quot Akaky perceives death as a reliever ofphysical and emotional suffering. Through death, he evades illnessand the embarrassment of being poor and losing his coat. It is likelythat Akaky loved death and what the afterlife gave him. On thecontrary, Ilych hated death and perceived it as a stage that opens uphis mind. He comes to the realization that he had lived a syntheticlife. He is full of regrets for ignoring the important things in lifesuch as his family. Based on this reason, he would have loved anotherchance to live to correct his mistakes. On the contrary, Akaky wouldnot wish for another chance at life as it was deplorable. Being aghost allows Akaky to discreetly correct some of the mistakes in hislife such as failing to curse the general when he had the chance.

Furthermore, the two stories differ in how they explore beliefs aboutdeath and the afterlife. In &quotThe Overcoat,&quot Gogol usesAkaky`s death to illustrate his beliefs about ghosts. To him, spiritslive among the people and are widely acknowledged in some cultures. Tolstoy does not delve into matters of life after death to imply thatit is final.

TheNarrator in Poe`s &quotThe Man of the Crowd&quot is ImplicitlyThreatened

The narrator in Poe`s &quotThe Man of the Crowd&quot is implicitlythreatened by the old man as he cannot control him or read his mind.He seeks to diffuse this threat by following him to analyze hismovements and intentions in the city. In following him, the narratorlearns that the old the man is elusive as he manages to confound hissurveillance throughout the night. Given that the narrator fails tofind any motive or predictable pattern in the old man`s movement, helabels him as a criminal.

Kafka`s“The Metamorphosis” Dream Logic

Dream logic is widely used by various authors to enrich plots.Kafka`s &quotThe Metamorphosis&quot uses dream logic when Samsatransforms himself into a giant insect. This logic allows the authorto break the laws of reality and rational thinking in the story. Thelogic is only relevant in dreams up until waking up. Thus, outside ofa dream, there is no way that Samsa could have transformed into agiant insect.


Poe’s CritiqueScience in His Poem “Sonnet to Science”

The author believes that scientific facts limit the creativity ofwriters in engaging in fiction and romantic ideas. Science examinesall ideas for their factual consistency, stripping it off any form ofcreativity.

Wordsworth’s&quotThe World is Too Much with Us&quot

The poet believes that capitalism created industrialization thatpromoted mass consumption and materialism, which is destructive tomankind and the environment. He believes that consumerism is soentrenched in such that only the extinction of humanity can onlyremove it.

Poe`s &quotTheMan of the Crowd&quot Glass

To him, the world is like an aquarium, and the café separates himfrom the world and window allows him to see it. It also represents alens or filter through which the poet perceives the world and filtersout irrelevant things.

Significance ofthe Ending of Gogol`s “The Overcoat”

The ghost represents the wishes of Akaky because it seeks toaccomplish all he failed to while alive. It also gives the story apositive ending with the old man being a winner as a ghost.

Realist Writingin Gogol`s “The Overcoat”

Gogol`s &quotTheOvercoat&quot employs realism in different ways. For instance, thestory describes daily stuff that ordinary people like Akaky do suchas going to work, struggling to survive on a meager salary, gettingmugged in the streets, and saving money. Furthermore, the story isnarrated by an omnipresent being that seems to know everything thathappens in the plot. Lastly, the story employs simple and transparentlanguage and not like the one found in Shakespearean sonnets.