Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Moscow. Russia’s capital city in the period during which this play is set. Pushkin wrote the play during the period when he was exiled from the royal court at St. Petersburg, which Czar Peter the Great had made Russia’s capital in 1712. (In 1918 the Bolsheviks would return the government to Moscow.)


*Kremlin. Enclosed fortress at the heart of Moscow and the seat of the historical czar Boris Godunov’s government. The word kremlin is an anglicization of Russian’s kreml’ for “fortress.” Many old Russian cities were centered upon similar fortresses, but the Kremlin of Moscow became the seat of the Russian government. Because of great architectural changes in the Kremlin since 1598, it is almost impossible to correlate the palace of Godunov’s time with any modern Kremlin palace. Pushkin’s minimalist stage directions depend upon the director’s and players’ familiarity with Russian history to recreate the scene on stage.

*Red Square

*Red Square. Open area in front of the Kremlin. In Russian, the same word means both “red” and “beautiful”; what was originally understood as the “beautiful square” acquired its modern name. In Pushkin’s play, the square is the site of several key interactions among the leaders and the common people.


*Kraków. Polish city that is the location of the house of Wisniowiecki, supporter of the False Dmitri, pretender to the Russian throne.