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The Nose

The Nose


by Nikolai Gogol

Analysis: Plot Analysis

Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.

The Noseless Man

So, have you heard the one about the guy who wakes up without a nose? And is all embarrassed and stuff about what his coworkers and semi-girlfriend are going to think? No? Well, that's what happens here to our friend Collegiate Assessor Kovalev. This bit about waking up without a nose gives us the background info on the situation, so we're prepared for all the wacky hijinks that this guy and his nose are going to get up to.

Rising Action

Adventures of a Nosy Fellow

During the rising action, our intrepid and noseless protagonist encounters conflicts and complications. Like, Kovalev is shocked to realize that his nose is not only leading a separate life, but has already climbed higher in the civil service. In fact, he's so high up that Kovalev has trouble speaking to him. And the kicker? The nose totally denies being Kovalev's nose at all.


Missing, Reward: One Nose

Not knowing what else to do, Kovalev decides to put an ad in the paper about it. When that fails, he goes to the police. When that also fails, he goes home only to have a cop bring the nose to him. But this fails also because it just won't stick on his face. You know this is the climax because this is the absolute worst that things get. We have no idea how the story's going to resolve: is he going to get his nose back? Will he ever find out who's responsible? And is he ever going to be able to take snuff again?

Falling Action

Noseless Forever, I Guess

Finally, Kovalev gives up his ambitions along with his quest for his nose. He decides to marry the girl he's been stringing along all this time and realizes that he'll never climb the social ladder any more. Yep, we're definitely headed on our way down.


Is This a Nose I See Before Me?

Two weeks later, Kovalev wakes up—and the nose is back on his face. He immediately becomes his old vain, social-climbing self. He decides not to marry that girl after all, and generally goes around town snobbing it up. Resolution? Well, the major conflict is over. But we're not sure that Kovalev actually learned anything from his experience.

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