The Diary of a Madman

by

Nikolai Gogol

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Attire and Clothing Symbol Analysis

Attire and Clothing Symbol Icon

Poprishchin’s fixation on social class and status makes him very judgmental of other people. His judgment often extends to others’ clothing, and various diary entries reference what people are wearing to illustrate their relative stature in society. When Poprishchin is walking through town and runs into Sophie, his love interest, he is embarrassed by the overcoat he is wearing, as it is outdated and dirty. When Poprishchin descends into madness and believes himself to be the long-lost king of Spain, he is hesitant to reveal himself initially, as he does not think he has a suitably royal outfit befitting his position. Clothing, to Poprishchin, is thus a symbol of social status and wealth; having the appropriate attire is crucial to being considered high-class and important.

Clothing is not, however, only the measure of one’s place in society; it also reveals its wearer’s true self in the story. When Poprishchin tailors himself a mantle to match his newfound status as king, he believes it to be appropriately royal, but it is really just fabric that he has torn haphazardly with scissors. His clothing, then, reveals his true mental state: he is not, in fact, a long-lost and royal king, but a man whose delusions have led him to believe in a fantasy. Clothing, then, can reveal both a person’s social standing, and is indicative of deeper psychological characteristics.

Attire and Clothing Quotes in The Diary of a Madman

The The Diary of a Madman quotes below all refer to the symbol of Attire and Clothing. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Social Class and Status Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Diary of a Madman published in 1999.
Don’t remember the date. Quotes

The mantle is all ready and sewn up. Mavra cried out when I put it on. However, I still refrain from presenting myself at court. No deputation from Spain so far. Without deputies it’s not proper. There’ll be no weight to my dignity.

Related Characters: Aksenty Ivanovich Poprishchin (speaker)
Related Symbols: Attire and Clothing
Page Number: 296
Explanation and Analysis:
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Attire and Clothing Symbol Timeline in The Diary of a Madman

The timeline below shows where the symbol Attire and Clothing appears in The Diary of a Madman. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Date none. The day had no date.
Social Class and Status Theme Icon
Insanity Theme Icon
Poprischin laments how he does not have proper royal attire . He wishes he could get a mantle from the tailors, but then decides he... (full context)
Don’t remember the date. There was no month, either. Devil knows what there was.
Social Class and Status Theme Icon
Insanity Theme Icon
Poprishchin writes that he has finished his royal clothing . He shows it to his cleaning woman, who “cries out” when he puts it... (full context)