In the county town, from which “three years of downloading, no state you reach,” the town governor, Anton Antonovich Skvoznik-Dmukhanovsky, gathers officials to inform the unpleasant news: by letter from the acquaintance, he is notified that an inspector from St. Petersburg is traveling to their city Incognito, and with a secret prescription. ” The governor – all night dreamed of two rats of an unnatural size – he had a premonition of the bad. The reasons for the arrival of the inspector are being sought, and the judge, Ammos Fedorovich Lyapkin-Tyapkin, presupposes the war that Russia is undertaking. The governor, meanwhile, advises Artemy Filippovich Zemlyanik, the trustee of charitable establishments, to put clean caps on patients, to dispose of the strength
Postmaster Ivan Kuzmich Shpekin appears, “simple-minded to the naivete of man.” The governor, fearing a denunciation, asks him to review the letters, but the postmaster, having long read them out of pure curiosity, did not see anything about the St. Petersburg official. Out of breath, the landowners Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky enter, and, interrupting each other, they talk about a visit to a hotel inn and a young man, observant, with such an expression in his face: in a word, it is the inspector: “He does not pay money, and does not go, who b be, how not him? “
The officials are worriedly diverging, the mayor decides to “go parade to the hotel” and gives urgent orders to the quarter on the street leading to the tavern, and the construction of the church at a charitable institution. The governor with Dobchinsky leaves in great excitement, the Bobchinsky cockerel runs after the droshky. They are Anna Andreevna, the wife of the governor, and Marya Antonovna, his daughter. The first scolds his daughter for sluggishness and in the window asks the departing husband, with a mustache and a mustache and with what mustache. Displeased with failure, she sends Avdotya for her droshky.
In the small hotel room on the master’s bed lies servant Osip. He is hungry, complains about the owner, the loser of money, on his thoughtless extravagance and remembers the joys of life in Petersburg. Is Ivan Alexandrovich Khlestakov, a young, stupid man. After the quarrel, with increasing timidity, he sends Osip for dinner – and not given, so for the master. For explanations with the tavern servant follows a cheesy lunch. Having emptied his plates, Khlestakov quarrels, the governor inquired about this time. In a dark room under the stairs where Khlestakov is lodging, their meeting takes place. The sincere words about the purpose of the trip, about the formidable father who summoned Ivan Aleksandrovich from Petersburg, are taken for a skilful invention of incognito, and his cries of unwillingness to go to the prison of the mayor understand in the sense that a visitor will not cover his misdeeds. The governor, lost in fear, offers the visitor money and asks to move to his house, and also to examine – curious for the sake of – some establishments in the city, “somehow pious and others.” The visitor unexpectedly agrees, and having written two notes on the tavern account, Zemlyanik and his wife, the mayor sends Dobchinsky with them, and he himself goes with Khlestakov.
Anna Andreevna, in anticipation and anxiety awaiting news, is still annoyed with her daughter. Dobchinsky resorted with a note and a story about the official that “not a general, but he will not yield to the general,” about his threateningness at first and softening subsequently. Anna Andreevna reads a note, where the list of salted cucumbers and caviar is punctuated with a request to prepare a room for the guest and take the wine from the merchant Abdulina. Both ladies quarrel and decide which dress to wear. The governor with Khlestakov returned, accompanied by Zemlyanik, Khlopov and the indispensable Dobchinsky and Bobchinsky. The conversation touches on the successes of Artemy Filippovich: since his inauguration, all the patients “like flies are recovering”. The governor makes a speech about his selfless zeal. Chlestakov, who is undressed, is wondering whether it is possible to play cards in the city, and the mayor, meaning in the issue of the trick, resolutely speaks out against the cards. Completely unraveled by the appearance of the ladies, Khlestakov tells how in Petersburg he was mistaken for the commander-in-chief, that he was with Pushkin on a friendly foot, as he once ruled the department, which was preceded by persuasion and the sending of thirty-five thousand couriers to him; he paints his unprecedented severity, predicts his soon-to-be work as field-marshals, which leads to a panic fear of the governor and his surroundings, in whose fear everyone disagrees when Khlestakov withdraws to sleep. Anna Andreevna and Marya Antonovna, arguing over whom the visitor had looked more closely, together with the governor, vying with each other, asked Osip about the master. He answers so ambiguously and evasively that, assuming in Khlestakov an important person, they are only asserted in that.
Officials in the house of the governor are discussing what to do, they decide to give the bribe to the visitor and persuade Lyapkin-Tyapkin, glorious with his eloquence, to be the first. Khlestakov wakes up and scares them. Completely overworked Lyapkin-Tyapkin, came in with the intention of giving money, can not even coherently answer, he has long served and that he has served; he drops money and considers himself almost no longer arrested. Raising the money Khlestakov asks them to borrow, because “on the road I lost”. Talking with the postmaster about the pleasures of life in the county town, offering a cigar to the schoolmaster and the question of who, for his taste, is preferable – brunettes or blondes, embarrassing Zemlyanik with the remark that yesterday he was lower, everyone takes turns ” loan “under the same pretext. Strawberries diversify the situation, telling at all and suggesting their views in writing. At the arrived Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky Khlestakov immediately asked a thousand rubles or even a hundred. Dobchinsky takes care of his firstborn, born before marriage, wishing to make him a legitimate son – and is encouraged. Bobchinsky asks on occasion to say in St. Petersburg to all nobles: senators, admirals, that “lives in such and such a city, Peter Ivanovich Bobchinsky.”
After espousing the landowners, Khlestakov sits down for a letter to his friend Tryapichkin in Petersburg in order to set out an amusing incident, as they took him for a “state man.” As long as the owner writes, Osip persuades him to leave rather quickly and manages in his arguments. Having sent Osip with letters and horses, Khlestakov accepts the merchants, whom the quarterly Derzhimorda loudly interferes with. They complain about the “harassment” of the governor, they give the requested five hundred rubles on loan. Prompted merchants are replaced by a plumber and a non-commissioned officer with complaints about the same mistress. The remaining petitioners bulge Osip. A meeting with Marya Antonovna, who, rightly, did not go anywhere, but only thought whether her mother was not here, ends up with a declaration of love, a kiss from the captive Khlestakov and his repentance on his knees. Suddenly Anna Andreevna appeared in anger exposing her daughter, and Khlestakov, finding her still very “appetizing,” falls to her knees and asks for her hands. He is not confused by the confused recognition of Anna Andreyevna, that she is “in some way married”, he suggests “retiring to the shadow of the jets,” for “there is no difference for love.” Suddenly run in, Marya Antonovna gets a cudgel from her mother and offers a hand and a heart from the still standing on his knees Khlestakov. The governor comes in, frightened by the complaints of the merchants who have broken through to Khlestakov, and begs not to believe the scammers. He does not understand his wife’s words about matchmaking, as long as Khlestakov does not threaten to shoot himself. Not fully understanding what is happening, the mayor blesses the young. Osip reports that the horses are ready, and Khlestakov declares to the completely lost family of the mayor that he travels for only one day to a rich uncle, again lends money, sits in a stroller, accompanied by the governor and the household. Osip carefully takes the Persian carpet on the litter.
After spending Khlestakova, Anna Andreevna and the governor give themselves up to dreams of Petersburg life. The called merchants are called, and the triumphant governor, having overtaken on them the great fear, in joy releases all with God. One by one, “retired officials, honorary figures in the city” come, surrounded by their families, in order to congratulate the family of the mayor. In the midst of congratulations, when the mayor with Anna Andreevna, in the midst of jealous guests, revere themselves as a general, the postmaster runs in with the message that “the official we took as the inspector was not an auditor.” Khlestakov’s printed letter to Tryapichkin is read aloud and in turn, since every new reader, having reached the characteristic of his own person, blinds, slips and withdraws. The crushed town governor pronounces an accusatory speech not so to the chopper Khlestakov, as to the “sniper, the paper-man,” which he certainly inserts into the comedy. The general anger is drawn to Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky, who made a false rumor when the sudden apparition of a gendarme who declares that “an official who came by an order from St. Petersburg requires you this same hour to himself” – plunges everyone into the likeness of tetanus. The silent scene lasts for more than a minute, during which time no one changes his position. “The curtain falls.”