Analysis Of The Nose By Nikolai Gogol

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The Nose by Nikolai Gogol is a short story about making the strange ordinary. Written in 1836, The Nose follows Collegiate Assessor Kovalyov who wakes one day to find his nose missing and masquerading around St. Petersburg as a state counsellor. The characters’ reactions and dialogue, as well as the narrator’s representation, seem to make the strangeness of the story ordinary throughout, with direct statements from the narrator seeming to confirm this. The inherent strangeness of the plot is often smothered by familiar elements. As early as the first line and the paragraphs thereafter we can see “[a]n extraordinarily strange event [that] took place on 25 March” (Gogol, 1836, pg. 113) being followed by ordinary things, such as Ivan “[waking] up rather early one morning and [smelling] hot bread” (Gogol, 1836, pg. 113). Only two paragraphs down does the reader return to the strange event in Ivan discovering a disembodied nose in his bread. This discovery, however, becomes ordinary through Ivan’s wife’s reaction – “‘[y]ou scoundrel! You drunkard! I’ll report you to the police myself, I will. You thief! Come to think of it, I’ve heard three customers say that when they come in for a shave you start tweaking their noses about so much it’s a wonder they stay on at all!’” (Gogol, 1836, pg. 114). His wife does not react to how absurd this is; she instead reprimands Ivan for stealing it, implying that the event itself is unremarkable and the important part is Ivan’s involvement.

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