Theme Of Nikolai Gogol's Nevsky Prospect

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In Nikolai Gogol’s short story “Nevsky Prospect” (1835), setting illuminates the theme of lies and deception. The setting of the story is the city of St. Petersburg, Russia. St. Petersburg was custom-built as a distinctly European-style capital. The replication of European architecture gives St. Petersburg an artificial feel, which can be seen in the setting of Gogol’s story. The story’s setting is more than just a city; it is a character of its own. The setting of the story is initially presented with the introduction of Nevsky Prospect, the city’s main street. Then, the story moves deeper in the streets of St. Petersburg as the story follows the journey of two men, Piskarev and Pirogov, after two women. As the story progresses, setting teeters…show more content…
Exaggerated descriptions of Nevsky Prospect and physical appearances of the people that walk the streets demonstrate the artificial and fictional nature of the setting. In the first line of the story, the narrator states that “there is nothing better than Nevsky Prospect, at least not in Petersburg; for there is everything” (Gogol 245). The narrator quickly establishes Nevsky Prospect as a utopian-like setting where people promenade and forget about whatever needs to be done. As the fawning portrayal of Nevsky Prospect becomes more obvious, it becomes evident that the narrator’s exaggerations are implications of the street’s fantastic nature. Moreover, the narrator describes the different people one will meet while on Nevsky Prospect. Watching the exhibition of people walking along Nevsky Prospect, he points out a person displaying “a foppish frock coat with the best of beavers,” another with “a wonderful Greek nose,” the third bearing “super side-whiskers,” the fourth with “pretty eyes and an astonishing little hat” (Gogol 249). The narrator describes the individuals by only a small aesthetic feature of their appearance. St. Petersburg, represented by Nevsky Prospect, is being portrayed as a superficial place where “there is a host of such people as, when they meet you, unfailingly look at your shoes, and, when you pass by,…show more content…
Piskarev initially deceives himself by mistaking the prostitute on the street for a “very noble lady” (Gogol 251) by looking of the coat she is wearing. Piskarev’s misconception of the woman is then revealed to be false by the setting. Entering the house of the woman, Piskarev notices that “the rather nice furniture was covered with dust; a spider spread its web over a molded cornice; in the half-open doorway to another room, a spurred boot gleamed and the red piping of a uniform flitted; a loud male voice and female laughter rang out unrestrainedly” (Gogol 255). The setting indicates that Piskarev has entered a brothel, showing him that his conception of her as a noble lady is false. But, Piskarev refuses to believe that the woman he followed is that type of woman. He begins “studying the objects that filled the room more attentively; but the bare walls and curtainless windows showed no presence of a thoughtful housewife” (Gogol 255). The setting, once more, shows Piskarev the reality of the house as brothel, revealing the true nature of the woman as a prostitute. The setting shows the realistic aspect the

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