Provincial capital. Unnamed Russian city in which the novel opens with Chichikov’s arrival. The city serves as the base from which he makes a series of trips into the countryside to visit local landowners. Nikolai Gogol’s descriptions of the town, with its poor sidewalks, unimpressive architecture, and sparse vegetation, highlight the pretentiousness of its officials and merchants, as readers may contrast the essential meagerness and inanity of the physical locale with the exaggerated claims made about the site in official plaques and shop signs.
Manilovka (mahn-eh-LOHV-kah). First estate that Chichikov visits. Manilovka is distinguished by a striking lack of vegetation and a superfluous pavilion called the Temple of Solitary Meditation. Its unimpressive landscape reflects the personality of its owner, Manilov, a bland and colorless person who is given to idle and useless dreaming.
Sobakevich estate (soh-BAH-keh-vihch). Everything at the Sobakevich estate echoes the physique and mind of its owner, Sobakevich, a man described as looking remarkably like a bear and who evinces a powerful, authoritarian attitude toward his surroundings. His house is solidly built, somewhat like a military fort, and all its furnishings seem to call out with their heavy construction that they, too, are part and parcel of their owner’s personality.
(The entire section is 612 words.)