Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 583
Anton Antonovich Skvoznik-Dmokhanovsky
Anton Antonovich Skvoznik-Dmokhanovsky (ahn-TOHN ahn-TOH-nuh-vihch SKVOHZ-nihk-dmew-hahn-OHF-skih), the prefect of a small provincial town in early nineteenth century Russia. He has received a warning letter from a friend that an inspector general is coming, traveling incognito, to visit the district in an attempt to find evidence of bribery and injudicious acts. The prefect calls a meeting of the citizens and orders them to mend their ways. He does not take kindly to their criticism that he has been taking bribes and recently had the wife of a noncommissioned officer beaten.
Ivan Alexandrovich Hlestakov
Ivan Alexandrovich Hlestakov (ih-VAHN ah-lehk-SAHN-druh-vihch hlehs-tah-KOHF), a smartly dressed traveler who, taking lodgings at the local inn, is mistaken for the inspector. A shrewd opportunist, he accepts money and gifts, goes to stay at the prefect’s house, and accepts an invitation to an official dinner at the hospital. He gets drunk and goes to sleep. When he awakes, he makes love to the prefect’s daughter and asks to marry her. He then requests five hundred rubles from complaining shopkeepers, borrows a coach, and, after writing to a friend an account of his hoax, rides off with promises to return the next day.
Osip (OH-sihp) or Yosif (YOH-sihf), Ivan Alexandrovich’s elderly and philosophical servant, who considers all gentlefolk peculiar. He is shrewd enough to capitalize on his master’s mistaken identity and adds to the hoax by allowing himself to be bribed into revealing all sorts of imaginary details of Ivan Alexandrovich’s high place in society. He then advises his master to leave town.
Anna Andreyevna (AHN-nuh ahn-DRAY-ehv-nuh), the prefect’s wife, given to arguing about clothes. She enjoys having Ivan Alexandrovich ogle her and delightedly agrees to his proposal of marriage to her daughter.
Marya Antonovna (MAH-ryuh ahn-TOH-nuhv-nuh), the prefect’s daughter.
Mishka (MIHSH-kuh), a servant of the mayor.
Piotr Ivanovich Bobchinsky
Piotr Ivanovich Bobchinsky (PYOH-tr ih-VAH-nuh-vihch bohb-CHIHN-skihy) and
Piotr Ivanovich Dobchinsky
Piotr Ivanovich Dobchinsky (dohb-CHIHN-skihy), two squireens of the town who discover a mysterious stranger at the inn and declare him to be the expected inspector general.
Artemy Filippovitch Zemlyanika
Artemy Filippovitch Zemlyanika (ahr-TEH-mihy fih-LIHP-peh-vihch zehm-lyah-NIH-kuh), the manager of the hospital. He believes that if a patient is going to die, he will die. To prepare for the arrival of the inspector general, he provides clean nightcaps for his patients and puts over each bed a Latin sign stating the patient’s illness.
Ammos Fyodorovitch Lyapkin-Tyapkin
Ammos Fyodorovitch Lyapkin-Tyapkin (AHM-muhs FYOH-duh-ruh-vihch LYAHP-kihn-TYAHP-kihn), the local judge, a dedicated huntsman who keeps his guns and his whip in the courtroom.
Stepan Ilyitch Uhovyortov
Stepan Ilyitch Uhovyortov (steh-PAHN ih-lyihch ew-hohv-yohr-TOHF), the police inspector.
Luka Lukich Hlopov
Luka Lukich Hlopov (LEW-kuh LEW-kihch hloh-POHF), the head of the local school. He is ordered to curb the unprofessional actions of some of his teachers, such as those of the history teacher who leaps on his desk to describe the Macedonian Wars and the fat one who grimaces and pulls his beard under his necktie.
Shpyokin (SHPYOH-kihn), the postmaster, who reads all the mail. Told to be on the lookout for details about the visit of the inspector general, he opens Ivan Alexandrovich’s letter and reads the rogue’s description of the muddle-headed town officials and the hoax played on them.
The inspector general
The inspector general, who, at the end of the play, arrives at the inn and sends a policeman to summon the town officials to wait on him immediately.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 235
Brown, Nigel. Notes on Nikolai Gogol’s “The Government Inspector.” Nairobi, Kenya: Heinemann Educational Books, 1974. The only book devoted entirely to a discussion of The Inspector General. Provides a broad overview of previous criticism and offers detailed consideration of characters, with particular attention devoted to Khlestakov.
Fanger, Donald. The Creation of Nikolai Gogol. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979. Considers the relationship between Gogol and his audience. Evaluates Gogol’s comic theory and his efforts at staging and self-interpretation.
Gippius, V. V. Gogol. Translated by Robert Maguire. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1989. Classic treatment of Gogol’s life and works. The chapter on The Inspector General analyzes the play’s structure and presents Gogol’s play as the beginning of social comedy with a serious purpose in Russia.
Nabokov, Vladimir. Nikolai Gogol. New York: New Directions, 1944. The clever tone of Nabokov’s book mirrors that of Gogol’s prose. The stylistic analysis is brilliant. Focuses on the theme of banality, with Khlestakov as one of its primary representatives. Points out Gogol’s genius in his attention to the absurd in everyday life.
Peace, Richard. The Enigma of Gogol: An Examination of the Writings of N. V. Gogol and Their Place in the Russian Literary Tradition. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1981. Evaluates the plot, characters, and structure of the play within the larger framework of the Russian tradition. Develops the theme of individual and social identity.
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