Summary “Boris Godunov”

Summary “Boris Godunov”

The tragedy “Boris Godunov” by Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin was written in 1824 – 1825. In the work the author described the historical events of 1598-1605 that took place in the Russian state, namely the rule of Boris Godunov and the invasion of False Dmitry. Stylistically, the drama is close to the historical chronicles of W. Shakespeare and refers to the literary direction of realism.

Main characters

Boris Godunov is the Russian Tsar, the murderer of Tsarevich Dmitry.

Gregory Otrepiev – escaped monk “from the Otrepiev family, Galician boyar children,” Pretender, who called himself Prince Dmitri, overthrew the power of the Godunovs.

Shuisky – Prince of the Rurikovich family, served under Boris Godunov, “crafty


Other characters

Vorotynsky is a prince of the Ryurikovich family.

Basmanov, Pushkin, Mosalsky – boyars.

Father Pimen is a chronicler who was present in Uglich during the assassination of Tsarevich Dmitry.

Marina Mnishek is the beloved of Grigory Otrepyev, who knew about his deception.

Theodore, Xenia are the children of Boris Godunov.

Misail, Varlaam – tramps-blacks.

Nikolka is a holy fool.

February 20, 1598. The Kremlin Chambers.

Princes Vorotynsky and Shuisky discuss what Boris Godunov and his sister had “shut themselves up” in the monastery for a month, “abandoned everything that is worldly” and this caused excitement in Moscow. However, according to Shuisky:

“The people are still turning and crying,
Boris is still frowning a little, <…>
And finally, by his grace
Take the crown humbly agree,”

Otherwise, “the blood of the child prince” Dmitry was wasted. Shuisky is sure that Boris Godunov is to blame for his death.

Everything happened exactly as Shuisky suggested – the people began to pray and beg Godunov to return to the throne. After a short reflection, Boris agrees, collects the boyars, and they swear allegiance

to the tsar.

1603 year. Night. Cell in the Chudov Monastery.

Father Pimen, sitting in front of the lamp, is finishing the chronicle, Grigory is sleeping nearby. Waking up, the monk tells that the third day he dreams about the same dream: how he looks at Moscow from above, people from below point to him with a laugh, and from fear and shame, he falls down.

Grigory is disappointed that during his life he saw almost nothing, whereas Pimen participated in battles and saw the “court of John.” The monk begins to question Pimen about his life and learns that he was in Uglich at the time of the death of Tsarevich Dmitry. If Dmitri was still alive, he would be the same age as Gregory.

The House of the Patriarch. Chudov Monastery

Gregory escapes from the monastery, saying that “he will be king in Moscow.” On the incident reported to the patriarch, he orders to catch a monk and send him to an eternal settlement in the Solovetsky Monastery.

The royal chambers.

After his “favorite conversation” – communication with the sorcerer, Godunov reflects on the fact that he already reigns for the sixth year and “magicians promise days of serene power”, but in his soul there is no happiness, nothing pleases him. Godunov shared with people gold, provided work, built new dwellings, but the people were not grateful to the tsar for what he had done: “the living power for the mob is hateful, they only know how to know the dead.” The true reason for the tsar’s spiritual torment lies in the throes of conscience: “Yes, it’s a pitiful one, in whom the conscience is unclean.”

Tavern at the Lithuanian border

Dressed Gregory with the blacks Varlaam and Misail sit in the inn. Otrepyev asks the hostess how to get to Lithuania. Unexpectedly, the bailiffs enter the tavern with a royal decree to find Grishka Otrepiev, who escaped the “evil heretic”, “to catch and hang.” Calling to read the decree, Gregory deliberately changes the described signs to the signs of Varlaam. The bailiff orders to bind the blacks, but the deception is revealed. Otrepev snatches the dagger from behind his bosom and quickly jumps out of the window.

Moscow. The house of Shuisky. Dinner Party

Pushkin tells Shuisky that his nephew sent a messenger from Krakow with the news – the son of Grozny Dmitry is supposedly alive, had already visited the king’s chamber and he promised to help him. Shuisky does not doubt that this is an impostor and believes that people should not learn about this news.

The royal chambers.

Godunov learns from Shuisky about the appearance of the impostor Dmitry. The prince warns Boris that Lzhetsarevich can raise the people against him. Nervous, Godunov asks Shuisky whether Dmitri really is dead. The prince is sure of this, moreover, he recalls the imperishability of the body of the prince who he visited at the cathedral thirteen years ago.

Krakow. House of Vishnevetsky.

Grigory is going to unite the Russian and Lithuanian forces in order to overthrow Godunov. The pretender promises to the Jesuit Chernikov to subordinate the entire Russian church to the Vatican, the Cossacks – to give the Don, other like-minded people – to avenge Godunov’s excesses.

Castle voivod Mniszka in Sambor.

Captivated by Marina, Gregory appoints her a secret meeting at night in the garden and opens it to her, saying that the impostor. However, the girl does not need the love of a runaway monk, she wants to become the wife of the Moscow Tsar. Marina begins to insult Gregory, promises to tell about his deception. Outraged, the Pretender answers that the Russian Tsarevich is not afraid of the Polish virgin. “Finally I hear a speech not of a boy, but of a husband” – Marina, saying that she will not be with Grigory until he overthrows Godunov, leaves.

The Tsar’s Duma

At a meeting of the Tsar’s Duma, they discuss that the Pretender has captured Chernigov. The king asks the boyars and the patriarch to save the city, offering to bring the remains of Dmitry to the Kremlin, so that everyone can see that the prince is dead. However, Shuisky advises yet to wait with this, getting himself to talk to the people.

December 21, 1604. The plain near Novgorod-Seversky

The height of the battle. The Russians run under the pressure of the Pretender’s forces. Captains of the Lithuanian army speak of False Dmitry as a “desperate thug”.

Square in front of the cathedral in Moscow

People in front of the cathedral discuss that Grigory Otrepyev was anathema, and “the prince is now singing eternal memory.” Godunov comes out of the church and Nikolas, the weeping fool, turns to him, complaining that “Little children are hurting Nikolka… We were stabbing them, as you slaughtered the little prince.” Boyars wanted to grab a holy fool, but the king ordered to leave him, asking Nicholas to pray for him. But he shouted to him on the trail: “No, no, you can not pray for King Herod – the Virgin does not order.”


Having occupied Sevsk, the Impostor interrogates the captured Moscow nobleman and learns that in Moscow Godunov executes everyone who says anything about False Dmitry. Having thrown on the 50 thousandth Russian army its 15,000-strong army, the Pretender suffers complete defeat. Miraculously saved, he is hiding with a bunch of like-minded people in the forest.

Moscow. The royal chambers

The Tsar is concerned that the False Dmitry, despite the defeat, again gathered the army. Godunov is not happy with the boyars. He wants to appoint a talented, but not a born Basmanov. A few minutes after their conversation, the king becomes ill:

“On the throne, he sat and suddenly fell –
Blood gushed out of his mouth and out of his ears.”
The dying king asks to leave him with Theodore, turns to his son:
“You will reign now by right.
” I, I will answer God for everything… “

Godunov instructs his son, recommends choosing Shuisky as his advisor, and appointing Basmanov as commander of the army. These include the boyars, saints, patriarch, queen and princess. Boyars swear allegiance to the new king. Above the dying “begins the ceremony of tonsure.”


Pushkin informs Basmanov that Falsdmitry proposes to go over to his side, for which Basmanov will receive “the first rank in the Moscow kingdom.” Basmanov replies that he already swore feudal allegiance to Theodora and knows that Dmitri is an impostor. Pushkin explains that the power of the Pretender is in the people’s opinion and asks that to think over the proposal.

The place of execution

Pushkin addresses the people with news about the death of Boris Godunov. The prince calls on the people to swear allegiance to Dmitri: “Kiss the cross to the lawful lord.” Someone shouted from the pulpit: “People, people, to the Kremlin, to the tsars’ chambers! Go, knit Borisov’s puppy!” and the people, rustling, headed for the Kremlin.

Kremlin. House of Borisov

Theodore and Xenia are in custody. The people who are at the walls are indignant: “The father was a villain, and the children are innocent.” In the house of Godunov go boyars with three hands. There comes a noise, the sounds of a fight, a squeal. The doors open, Mosalsky appears on the porch:

“The people, Maria Godunova and her son Theodore poisoned themselves with poison, we saw their dead corpses.”
The people are silent in horror. ”
Why are you silent? Shout:” Long live Tsar Dimitry Ivanovich! ”
The people are silent.”


In the work “Boris Godunov” Pushkin raises a number of important topics relating to the nature of power – both the power of the people, and the tyrannical domination of one person. The example of the life of Boris Godunov shows the tragedy of power – the king wanted good for his people, but he could only achieve influence through bloodshed. However, the people did not accept the regicide. In the final of the work, the new ruler does the same thing – kills Godunov’s heirs. People finally understand that not an offended heir came to the throne, but a murderer of orphans. Horrified, “the people are silent.”

A brief retelling of “Boris Godunov” will be useful for schoolchildren, students and anyone who is interested in the works of Alexander Pushkin.

Summary “Boris Godunov”