Pavel Ivanovitch Tchitchikov
Pavel Ivanovitch Tchitchikov (PAH-vehl ih-VAH-nuh-vihch CHEET-chee-kof), an adventurer of early nineteenth century Russia. He buys “dead souls,” that is, the names of serfs who have died since the last census but who still continue to cost their owners taxes until they can be written off in the next census. Using their names, he plans to get from his uncle’s estate the money refused him in the old man’s will by mortgaging his own “estate,” with its dead souls, to the Trustee Committee. To find dead souls, he rides from village to village visiting landowners and exerting his charm to obtain the names of dead serfs. The villagers begin to talk and, unable to guess what he is up to, accuse him of all sorts of crimes. He has an encounter with the law and is arrested. He is finally released by an unscrupulous lawyer who brings to light all the local scandals, so that the villagers are glad to get Tchitchikov out of town.
Selifan (SEH-lih-vuhn), Pavel’s coachman, through whose mistake about roads he visits Madame Korobotchkina. They are put onto the right road by her twelve-year-old maid, Pelageya.
Nastasya Petrovna Korobotchkina
Nastasya Petrovna Korobotchkina (nahs-TAH-syuh peht-ROV-nuh koh-roh-BACH-kee-nuh), an overnight hostess who sells Pavel eighteen of her dead souls for fifteen rubles each.
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