The sovereign’s power is a senseless phenomenon, if he does not feel that it must be God’s image on earth. NV Gogol (From correspondence with friends).
At first glance, “The Story of Captain Kopeikin” is in no way connected with the poem by N. Gogol “Dead Souls”: there is no intertwining of plot lines, a stylistic style different from the poem, a fairy-tale manner of narration. But from the history of writing the poem we know that NV Gogol refused to publish “Dead Souls” without this story. He attached great importance to this “small poem inscribed in the epicenter of the great”. So what is the inner connection of the story with the poem “Dead Souls”, a story rewritten three times by the author under the pressure
In “The Tale of Captain Kopeykin,” a dramatic story is told about a disabled hero of the Patriotic War, who arrived in St. Petersburg for “monarchist mercy.” Defending his homeland, he lost his arm and leg and lost any means of subsistence. Captain Kopeikin is in the capital, surrounded by an atmosphere of hostility to man. We see St. Petersburg through the eyes of the hero: “Ponatalkilsya was to rent an apartment, but everything bites terribly…” “One doorman is already watching the generalissimo… like a fatty fatty pug some…” Captain Kopeikin seeks a meeting with the minister himself, and that turns out to be a callous, soulless person. Kopeikina is encouraged to wait and “go and see one of these days.” And so, when the patience of the hero comes to an end, he comes again to the commission with a request to solve his question, to which the high chief enlightens the raging Kopeikin: “There was not yet an example that in Russia, which brought about, so to speak, services to the fatherland, was left without charity.” Following these completely parodically sounding words, one should follow a brazen advice: “Look for your own money, try to help yourself.” Kopeikin raises “revolt” in the presence of the
Gogol not without reason trusts the story of the heroic captain exactly to the postmaster. The self-satisfied, prosperous postmaster, with his tongue-tied, majestic-pathetic speech, even more reveals the tragedy of the story that he describes so gaily and ornately. In comparing the images of the postmaster and Kopeikin, two social poles of old Russia appear. From the mouth of the postmaster, we learn that Kopeikin, riding on a courier, argued: “Well, he says, here you say, you say, that I myself would look for the means and help, it is good, he says, I say, I will find the means!”
Telling that the rumors about Captain Kopeykin, after he was expelled from Petersburg, have sunk into oblivion, the postmaster then adds an important multi-valued phrase: “But, gentlemen, this is where the novel begins, it might be said.” The minister, sending Kopeikin out of the capital, thought – that’s the end of the matter. But it was not there! The story is just beginning. Kopeikin will still show himself and make me talk about myself. Gogol could not openly talk about the adventures of his hero in the Ryazan forests under censored conditions, but the phrase about the plot of the novel gives us to understand that everything that has been told so far about Kopeikin is just the beginning, and most importantly lies ahead. But the idea of retribution in “The Tale of Captain Kopeykin” is not reduced to revenge for the scorned justice on the part of the captain, who turned his anger on all “official”.
The tale of the heroic defender of the Fatherland, who fell victim to the trampled justice, as it crowns the whole terrible picture of the local, bureaucratic and police Russia, painted in Dead Souls. The embodiment of arbitrariness and injustice is not only the provincial government, but also the capital bureaucracy, the government itself. By the lips of the minister, the government renounces the defenders of the Fatherland, from genuine patriots, and thereby exposes its anti-national essence – this is the thought in Gogol’s work.
“The Tale of Captain Kopeikin” is a cry of Gogol’s soul, it is a call to universal values, it is a trial of the “dead souls” of landlords, officials, higher authorities – over a world full of indifference.
And the prophetic words of Gogol “the current generation laughs and arrogantly proudly starts a series of new errors, over which the descendants will also laugh” and is a court of history. The despicable laughter of descendants is what will serve as retribution for this indifferent world, which can not change anything in itself even in the face of the obvious threat of a meaningless and fruitless death.