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The Government Inspector, Essential Revision Notes

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Table of Contents

The Government Inspector by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol 5

Context 5

Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol 5

Meyerhold's interpretation 7

Summary 8

Characters 9

Khlyestakov 9

Ossip 10

The Mayor, Skvoznik Dmukhanovsky 10

The Judge, Lyapkin-Tyapkin 11

The Charity Commissioner, Zemlyanika 11

The Postmaster, Shpyokin 11

The Schools Superintendent, Khlopov 12

The District Physician, Hubner 12

Two landowners, Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky 12

The Mayor’s wife, Anna Andreyevna 13

The Mayor’s daughter, Maria Antonovna 14

Structure and style 14

Pace: 14

Comedy: 14

Plot device: 15

Shape 15

Theatrical conventions: 15

Dialogue: 15

Language devices: 15

Naming 16

Translation: 16

Themes 17

Injustice 17

Conscience 17

Societal ills 17

Behaviour and attitudes 17

Power 17

The Government Inspector by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol


The Government Inspector, also known as ‘The Inspector General’, is a satirical play by the Russian and Ukrainian dramatist and novelist Nikolai Gogol. Originally published in 1836, the play was revised for an 1842 edition. Based upon an anecdote allegedly recounted to Gogol by Pushkin, the play is a comedy of errors, satirizing human greed, stupidity, and the extensive political corruption of Imperial Russia.

According to D. S. Mirsky, the play ‘is not only supreme in character and dialogue – it is one of the few Russian plays constructed with unerring art from beginning to end. The great originality of its plan consisted in the absence of all love interest and of sympathetic characters. The latter feature was deeply resented by Gogol's enemies, and as a satire the play gained immensely from it. There is not a wrong word or intonation from beginning to end, and the comic tension is of a quality that even Gogol did not always have at his beck and call.’

The dream-like scenes of the play, often mirroring each other, whirl in the endless vertigo of self-deception around the main character, Khlestakov, who pe...

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