The action takes place in the provincial city of NN, where the collegiate adviser Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov comes. He is a middle-aged man, of medium build and of pleasant appearance. Together with him came his servants – the valet Petrushka and the coachman Selifan. The time of the events described is several years after the war of 1812.
Chichikov settles in a hotel, dines in a tavern and interrogates a servant there about the surrounding landlords. He also wondered if there was an epidemic in those places, from which many people died. The goal of Chichikov is the purchase of dead peasant souls.
The next day, the official visits important people. At a party at the governor he gets acquainted with the landlords Manilov and Sobakevich, who invite Chichikov to their estates. And the police chief Pavel Ivanovich gets acquainted with another landlord – Nozdrev. City society from Chichikov in ecstasy.
Pavel Ivanovich, accompanied by Petrushka and Selifan, leaves town to visit Manilov and Sobakevich. The first on his way lies the village of Manilovka, whose owner meets Chichikov with great joy.
Gogol characterizes Manilov as a spineless person – “neither that, nor this”, but also in communication “cloying”. Manilov constantly talks about his unrealizable and unnecessary ideas. He is a bad master, like his wife. No one here is engaged in home or fields. Servants without a master’s eye steal, sit back and drink.
After dinner, Chichikov explains to Manilov the reason for his arrival: he wants to buy peasants who are still listed as alive, but have already died. The owner does not understand why a guest needs this. But, wishing to make pleasant, agrees. To register a deed, they agree to meet in the city. After the departure of Chichikov, Manilov remains in perplexity for a long time.
On the way to Sobakevich, the hero falls under a downpour and staggers from the road. The seeker of dead souls is forced to spend the night in the first place, which finds the estate of the landowner Korobochka.
In the morning Chichikov examines the estate and notes the thoroughness and management in everything. An elderly widow, Nastasya Petrovna Korobochka, was a woman who was incomprehensible and in conversation utterly impossible. Only after long explanations Chichikov manages to buy dead souls from the landowner. True, I had to promise for this to buy from the Box of bacon and feathers. Nastasya Petrovna hesitates for a long time: did she sell it in the deal?
Chichikov visits a tavern where he meets Nozdrev, and then accepts the landlord’s invitation to visit his village. Nozdrev, according to Gogol, was a historical man, because he constantly got into different stories. He is an incorrigible chatterbox, a liar, a gossip, a kutila, a likhach and a braggart. Nozdryov loves cards and other gambling. At the table he constantly cheats and often it happens for a bit, but remains with everyone in friendly relations.
Chichikov presents Nozdrev with his request for dead souls. The owner does not want to sell the peasants, but he suggests playing them on cards or exchanging them. After quarreling with Nozdrev, Pavel Ivanovich goes to bed. But in the morning the owner again offers to play for dead souls, now – in checkers. During the game, Nozdryov frankly cheats. A scandal erupts, turning into a fight. Suddenly appears captain-police officer with a report on the lawsuit against Nozdryov. His visit saves Chichikov from beatings. Without a moment’s delay, Pavel Ivanovich rushes out and orders the coachman to drive at full speed.
On the way, Chichikov’s carriage collides with a carriage in which an elderly lady and a pretty girl are traveling. All the way to the estate of Sobakevich Pavel Ivanovich dreams of a beautiful stranger.
Sobakevich – the master solid. He is big and clumsy like a bear, he surrounds himself with such strong and enduring things. Pavel Ivanovich expounds his case, Sobakevich is desperately trading, but as a result, the deal is still concluded. The parties agree to arrange everything in the city. In conversation with Sobakevich, Chichikov learns of the landowner Plushkin, whose serfs “die like flies”. Pavel Ivanovich sends his proposal to the new owner.
The village of Plyushkin causes a depressing impression: desolation and devastation reign everywhere. On the backyard of a completely senile master’s house, Chichikov meets a strange creature of incomprehensible sex. Pavel Ivanovich initially takes him for a housekeeper, but it turns out that this is the owner of the house – Plyushkin. Chichikov is shocked by the beggarly kind of old man. Having a huge estate, colossal supplies of provisions and various goods, Plyushkin walks the village every day and collects various trifles: ropes, feathers, etc. All this he puts in his room.
Chichikov easily bargained for the stupid 120 dead souls and another 70 fugitives. Refusing to eat, which has long turned into something petrified, happy Pavel Ivanovich returns to the hotel.
The next day, as was agreed, the hero meets with Sobakevich and Manilov to complete the transaction. Have concluded the deed and the peasants Plyushkin. The deal began to be celebrated, to say many toasts. Do not forget to drink and for the future wife of the newly-born landowner. Chichikov shared his plans to take the bought peasants to Kherson province.
The rumor of Chichikov’s purchases quickly spreads through the city, everyone calls the hero “millionaire.” A great stir among the ladies begins. Pavel Ivanovich comes with an anonymous love message, and an invitation to the governor to the ball.
Chichikov in a magnificent mood. At the ball he is surrounded by ladies, among whom Pavel Ivanovich tries to guess the one that sent the letter. It turns out that the young person, captivated by his imagination, the daughter of the governor. Chichikov is shocked by the unexpected meeting and neglects the other ladies, which causes their displeasure. To top it off is Nozdrev and tells how Chichikov traded dead souls from him. Although no one believes Nozdrev for a long time, Pavel Ivanovich begins to worry, he leaves the ball in confusion. At this time the landowner Korobochka arrives in the city. She is going to find out: how much dead souls are now.
In the morning, rumors were circulating in the city that Chichikov, with the help of Nozdrev, wanted to kidnap the governor’s daughter. Gossips reach the governor’s office, and she makes a strict interrogation for her daughter. Chichikov was told not to let him in. The society is puzzled by the question: so who is Pavel Ivanovich? To understand and discuss everything, the city elite gathers at the police chief.
Here officials for a long time discuss Chichikov and related oddities. The postmaster tells of Captain Kopeykin, suggesting that this is Pavel Ivanovich.
During the war of 1812, Captain Kopeikin lost his arm and leg. He asked Petersburg for a pension. While officials were dragging out the case, Kopeikin ran out of money. In desperation, the captain decided to seize the ministry, but he was caught and deported from... the city. Two months later, a robber band led by Kopeikin began to hunt in the woods.
After hearing the story, the society protested: Kopeikin was disabled, and Chichikov’s hands and feet are safe. It was decided to send for Nozdrev and question him properly. Nozdryov immediately declares Chichikov a counterfeiter, kidnapper of the governor’s daughter and a spy. These rumors so upset the prosecutor that he is dying.
Now they do not accept Pavel Ivanovich from the governor. The situation clears up, appeared to Chichikov at the hotel, Nozdrev. Having learned that the official is accused of forgery of bank notes, the failed kidnapping of the governor’s daughter, and also the death of the prosecutor, Chichikov decides to flee urgently from the city.
We learn the story of the protagonist. Chichikov from poor nobles, his mother died early, and his father was often sick. He took the little Pavlusha to study in the city. The boy did not shine with his abilities, but graduated from the school with a reward for diligent behavior. From an early age, he showed a talent for finding ways to make money.
Hardly Chichikov graduated from college, as his father died, leaving Pavel a penny inheritance. The young man zealously took up his service, but without patronage he could only get a seedy place. However, Chichikov came up with a cunning plan and begged for the ugly daughter of the chief. As soon as he was appointed to a good place, the groom immediately pretended that he had not promised anything.
Changing several posts, where he took bribes on the sly, Pavel Ivanovich settled into customs. There he became a smear of smugglers. When the authorities, convinced of the dedication of their employee, gave Chichikov all the power, he conspired with the smugglers. After a few scams Pavel Ivanovich unheard of. However, he quarreled with one of his accomplices, who gave him justice. Chichikov still managed to avoid the prison, but from a huge fortune, almost nothing remained.
Pavel Ivanovich again began to earn money from lower positions. Once Chichikov learned that in the guardian council it is possible to lay dead peasants, who according to the revision tale are still alive. So he had the idea to acquire dead souls.
And now Chichikov’s carriage, harnessed by a troika of horses, rushes on.
As is known, Gogol burned the second volume of his work. Only a few drafts survived, on which it was possible to restore part of the chapters.
The author describes a magnificent landscape that opens from the balcony of the landowner Andrei Ivanovich Tentetnikov, a very lazy person. He wipes his eyes in the morning, watches for as much time and writes a global work on the structure of Russia. But which year did not advance in this work even on the page.
And the young man was beginning quite deservingly, and he put forth great hopes. But when his teacher died, further education caused Tentetnikov disappointment. Entering the service of patronage, Andrei Ivanovich initially wanted to benefit the state, but soon became disillusioned with the service. He retired and returned to his estate.
One day Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov appears in his lonely house and linger there for a while. Upon learning of the quarrel with the neighbor-general, whose daughter Tentetnikova was supposed to be the bride, Chichikov is called to settle the matter and goes to the military.
Pavel Ivanovich gets acquainted with the general and his daughter, manages to reconcile the old man with Tentetnikov and writes a fable about his uncle to buy from the general dead souls…
This ends the chapter text.
Chichikov goes to Colonel Koshkarev, but gets quite another estate – to Peter Petrovich Rooster. The bread-and-butter owner turns out to be a lover of food. Just for dinner, his neighbor Platon Mikhailovich Platonov comes – a written handsome man, languishing in the village from boredom. Chichikov has an idea to take Plato in his wanderings. He agrees, but first requires a brief visit to his estate.
The next day the heroes leave for the village, which belongs to Platonov’s son-in-law Konstantin Konstantinou. This is an amazingly economic man, whose estate is flourishing. Chichikov is so impressed that he asks Constantinoglu to teach his mind and to tell how to successfully conduct business. The owner of the estate advises Chichikov to go to Koshkarev, and then return and stay with him for a couple of days.
Koshkarev is not without reason considered crazy. His village is a pervasive construction site. Signs like “Depot for agricultural implements” are painted on new, state-owned houses. Every business in Koshkarev goes through the design of many papers. Even oats can not be given to horses without a whole heap of bureaucratic permits.
Realizing that it is impossible to buy dead souls here because of the terrible disorder and bureaucracy, Chichikov returns irritably to Constantinople. At dinner, the owner shared his experience of running a farm and tells how a profitable business can be established from any waste. The conversation also goes about the richest farmer Murazov, who started from scratch, and now has a millionth estate. Chichikov goes to sleep with a firm determination to buy an estate and start a farm like Constantinople. He hopes to acquire the neighboring estate of Khlobuev.
Chichikov, Platonov and Konstantinoglo go to Khlobuev to agree on the sale of the estate. The village and the master’s house are in a deep desolation. Have conspired for 35 thousand rubles. Then we went to Platonov, where Chichikov got acquainted with his brother Vasily. It turns out that in the case of that trouble – the neighbor Lenitsin took a wasteland. Pavel Ivanovich is called to help in this problem and talk with the offender. At Lenicin, Chichikov starts his corporate conversation about the purchase of dead souls. The owner doubts, but then appears his wife with a one-year-old son. Pavel Ivanovich begins to play with the child, and he “marks” the new Chichikov’s coat. To hush up trouble, Lenitsin agrees to a deal.
Then there is a big gap in the text. Only one of the last chapters has survived.
One of the last chapters
Chichikov comes to the fair and goes to the store to buy a dress coat, where he encounters Khlobuyev and Murazov. The new coat sits on Pavel Ivanovich superb. The official is very pleased, but here is a gendarme with a demand to immediately arrive at the governor.
The prince accuses Chichikov of falsifying the will of the old woman, the hero is arrested. Murazov comes to prison for Pavel Ivanovich. Chichikov begs him to talk with the prince and swears that he will improve, he’s just “devilted”. Murazov promises to help.
Then Samosvistov appears, whom Pavel Ivanovich hired to settle the matter. He asks for thirty thousand rubles. Chichikov agrees.
Samosvistov substitutes the witness and together with the legal adviser so confuses the case, that it is already impossible to understand. Murazov persuades the governor to release Chichikov. A hunter for dead souls is about to leave the city…
This ends the manuscript.