The Government Inspector

by Nikolai Gogol

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What's the significance of the postmaster opening all letters that are sent or received?

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In "The Government Inspector," the fact that the postmaster opens all letters sent or received in an effort to determine when the inspector arrives and who is complaining about him still leaves him and the town ill prepared.

The townspeople are so worried about covering their own corrupt ways that they are deceived by someone who pretends to be the inspector from St. Petersburg even as the governor gives instructions to “clean up” the various offices and institutions to make them more presentable.

Ironically, the postmaster receives a letter from the fake inspector detailing his adventures and low opinion of the town.

Then, the town is presented with the "real" inspector who demands its services.

The postmaster is tricked by the very same type of censorship and corruption he employs.

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