Moscow, the decade of reforms of Alexander II. In a small, well-kept apartment, a widow’s mother and her young son, Yegor Dmitrievich Glumov, live. From the conversation it becomes clear that Glumov tells his mother that he will try to achieve success through his acquaintances, and not as before. He also says that he has completely gone to his mother – as smart, envious and evil. He is going to keep a diary in which he will frankly record what he thinks about people.
On a visit to them the hussar Kurchaev comes, accompanied by his friend Golutvin, who, as is known, does nothing special. As it turned out, they are going to publish a magazine, so they need help from Glumov, in particular his diary, which has already been rumored. Glumov refuses them. Before leaving, Kurchaev, who is a distant relative of Glumov, persuades to take on the caricature created on their uncle – Mamaev. Glumov again refuses. Then the hussar tells him that Mamaev’s wife is very much in love with him, after which he leaves with his companion. Immediately Glumov admits that he already bribed his uncle’s servant, and he now will come to look at their apartment, which they seem to lease. At this moment, Mamayev himself appears, along with his servant. He reproaches the servant for bringing him to a dwelling,
To Mamayev’s perplexity, he says that he is a fool. After a while Mamayev begins to think that this young man needs his valuable advice and guidance. Mother Glumova demonstrates Mamaev caricature, which made Kurchaev, after which he leaves. Instead, he comes Manefa – an old seer and fortune-teller, which Glumov does not like. He gives her fifteen rubles and sends him home. At the same time he makes a note in his diary – 15 rubles to Manefa and 3 rubles to Mamaev’s servant. Suddenly, Kurchaev comes running, who has already received a severe reprimand from Mamayev. He suspects Glumov of intrigue. Friends quarrel and Kurchaev leaves. Glumov records in his diary that the first step has been taken. House Glumov visited Krutitsky – a very important gentleman who considers himself a great writer. He wrote some creation, which, in his words, not worse than that of Lomonosov. Mamayev recommends giving the manuscript for processing to Glumov. After their departure the wife of Mamayev and Glumov appear.
Glumov’s mother complains about a lack of money, but Mamaeva reassures her, saying that she will patronize her son. At this moment Mamayev comes, and Glumova begins to praise her son. However, Mamayev says he will not give money, but will help with valuable advice. Glumova leaves with him. Later, Glumov himself comes, and Mamaev’s wife begins to flirt with him. Arrived young mister Gorodulin Mamaeva talks about the talent of Glumov. He decides to listen. Glumov demonstrates the wonders of eloquence and Gorodulin asks him to write a speech for him. Glumov agrees. After this comes Mamayev, who suddenly learns to Glumov how to take care of his wife. After his departure, Glumov confesses to Mamayeva’s love. The rich widow of the merchants of Turusin returned home because of a bad omen. In her rich house she reprimands her niece Mashenka for her hobby for Kurchaev. Mashenka does not argue, since she’s a well-bred young lady, but she asks her aunt to find her fiance, and then leaves. On a visit to Turusina comes Krutitsky. The widow begins to share with him experiences about where to find her a worthy groom. Krutitsky advises Glumov and leaves.
Instead, Gorodulin appears, who, laughing a little at the merchant’s predilection...
First, Glumov categorically refuses, but doubts, since he does not want to lose a promising wedding with Mashenka. He wants to know who is driving Golutvin’s room, but then he catches up and pays him for his silence. At this time Mamaeva finds a diary, reads about herself and the angry leaves. Returning Glumov sees that Mamaeva has carried her diary with her and understands that everything is gone. At the dacha of Turusina the whole society gathered. Kurchaev tells Masha that Glumov is an unheard-of virtue. Glamov himself tries to convince Mamayev that he will marry in accordance with the calculation. Unexpectedly, they bring a package containing a fresh magazine with a photograph of Glumov. The magazine is called “How to go out into people”. Mamayev begins to read it, denouncing Glumov in everything. After he is asked to quietly retire with this magazine. However, Glumov, realizing that he had nothing to lose, tries to convict all present in oral form. But, as it turned out, he does not say anything new – after all, all those present are not as stupid people as Glumov thought, and knew what purpose he pursues. Struck Glumov is removed. The audience decides that after a while again they will caress him. Mamayeva takes it upon herself.