Characters Discussed

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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.


Petrushka (peht-REWSH-kuh), Pavel’s valet, who shares his adventures.


Nozdryov (NOHZ-dryof), a gambler and liar who meets Pavel at an inn and finally denounces him to the police as a spy and forger. He himself is arrested for assaulting a friend, Maximov.


Manilov (mah-nih-LOHF), a genial landowner who offers hospitality to Pavel and gives him his first dead souls.


Lizanka (lih-ZAHN-kuh), the wife of Manilov.


Themistoclus (teh-MIHS-to-kluhs), one of Manilov’s two children.

Mihail Semyonovitch Sobakevitch

Mihail Semyonovitch Sobakevitch (mih-hah-IHL seh-MYOH-no-vihch soh-BAH-keh-vihch), a landowner who at first demands a hundred rubles apiece for his dead souls but finally settles for two and a half rubles apiece.


Plyushkin (PLEWSH-kihn), a miser who haggles fiercely over 120 dead souls and seventy-eight fugitives. He finally gives Pavel a letter to the town president.

Ivan Grigoryevitch

Ivan Grigoryevitch (ih-VAHN grih-GOH-ryeh-vihch), the town president, who transfers Pavel’s purchased dead souls to the adventurer’s imaginary estate in the Kherson province and makes the transactions legal.

Ivan Antonovitch

Ivan Antonovitch (ahn-TOH-no-vihch), a minor clerk who must be bribed to record the purchases.

The Governor

The Governor, who entertains at a big ball.

The Governor’s Daughter

The Governor’s Daughter, with whom Pavel is supposed to be eloping. His coach had previously collided with hers.

Captain Kopeykin

Captain Kopeykin (koh-PAY-kihn), a legendary soldier of the War of 1812, turned bandit. Some think he has returned disguised as Pavel.

Andrey Ivanovitch Tyentyelnikov

Andrey Ivanovitch Tyentyelnikov (ahn-DRAY ih-VAH-no-vihch tyehn-TYEHL-nih-kof), a thirty-three-year-old bachelor who plays host to the adventurer. Pavel aids him in his suit for a neighbor’s daughter.

General Betrishtchev

General Betrishtchev (beht-RIHSH-chehf), a neighbor of Tyentyelnikov who gives the young landowner his daughter in marriage and sells more dead souls to Pavel.


Ulinka (ew-LIHN-kuh), the general’s daughter, in love with Tyentyelnikov.


Vishnepokromov (vihsh-nyeh-POHK-ro-mof), who tries to prevent Ulinka’s engagement.


Pyetukh (PEH-tewk), a generous glutton who entertains Pavel.


Platonov (PLAH -to-nov), a young friend who accompanies Pavel on his travels and introduces him to his...

(This entire section contains 703 words.)

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sister and his brother-in-law.

Konstantin Skudronzhoglo

Konstantin Skudronzhoglo (kohn-stahn-TIHN skew-drohn-ZHOH-glo), a prosperous landowner and the brother-in-law of Platonov. He lends Pavel ten thousand rubles to buy an estate.


Hlobuev (hloh-BEW-ehf), a spendthrift whose land Pavel wants to buy. By forging a will, Pavel tries to help him claim an inheritance from a rich aunt, but he forgets to cancel in it all earlier documents.

Alexy Ivanovitch Lyenitzyn

Alexy Ivanovitch Lyenitzyn (ah-lehk-SAY ih-VAH-neh-vihch leh-NIH-tsewn), a public official who discovers two wills of the old woman, one contradicting the other. He has Pavel jailed on a charge of forgery.

Ivan Andreitch

Ivan Andreitch (ahn-DRAY-ihch), the postmaster of “N.”


Samosvitov (sah-MOHS-vih-tof), who offers to get Pavel out of jail for thirty thousand rubles.


Murazov (mew-rah-ZOHF), the shrewd, unscrupulous lawyer who gets Pavel freed by raking up scandals against all those who have accused his client.




Critical Essays