Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Piotr Andreitch Grineff

Piotr Andreitch Grineff (PYOH-tr ahn-DREH-ihch grih-NEHF), a young officer in a Russian regiment. A kindly and generous young man who falls in love with the commandant’s daughter, he goes to great lengths to protect her from harm and fights a duel when a fellow officer criticizes a love poem he has written to her. At first his parents do not approve of the girl, but they later give their consent to the marriage.

Maria Ivanovna

Maria Ivanovna (MAH-ryuh ih-VAH-nov-nuh), the Captain’s daughter, a lovely girl very much in love with Piotr. When he sends her to his parents for her protection, she so impresses them that they change their minds about not allowing their son to marry her. She saves her lover from exile in Siberia by appealing to the Empress.

Alexey Ivanitch Shvabrin

Alexey Ivanitch Shvabrin (ah-lehk-SAY ih-VAHN-ihch SHVAH-brihn), an officer in Piotr’s regiment. A suitor rejected by Maria, he is jealous of her love for Piotr. When the rebel Pougatcheff takes the Bailogorsk fortress, Shvabrin deserts to the rebel side. He does everything in his power to separate Maria and Piotr. He accuses Piotr of being a spy for the rebels and is responsible for his rival’s sentence of exile.

Emelyan Pougatcheff

Emelyan Pougatcheff (eh-meh-LYAHN pew-GAH-chehf), a Cossack rebel leader who claims to be the dead Emperor Peter III. He is cruel and ruthless. After the capture of the Bailogorsk fortress, however, he spares Piotr’s life and sends him away under safe conduct because the young officer had earlier given the rebel, disguised as a traveler, a sheepskin coat to protect him during a snowstorm.


Savelitch (sah-VEH-lihch), Piotr’s old servant, whose intervention saves his master from several predicaments. He is faithful, loyal, and shrewd.

Vassilissa Egorovna

Vassilissa Egorovna (vah-SIH-lih-sah eh-GOH-rov-nah), the captain’s wife, a capable woman who runs her household and her husband’s regiment with great efficiency. When she protests against her husband’s murder by the Cossack rebels, she is killed.

Captain Ivan Mironoff

Captain Ivan Mironoff, the commanding officer at the Bailogorsk fortress and Piotr’s superior. Captured when Cossacks under Emelyan Pougatcheff seize the fortress, he and his aides are hanged by order of the rebel chief.

Captain Zourin

Captain Zourin, who rescues Piotr, his family, and Maria from death at the hands of the renegade Shvabrin.