The beginning of the XIX century. The city of Kalinov, standing on the steep bank of the Volga.
In the first act of the play, the reader sees a public urban garden. Here the clerk of the merchant Wild Kudryash, the self-taught mechanic Kuligin and the philistine Shapkin are talking to each other. It’s about the character of the Wild – wayward, cruel and ruthless. Then Boris appears, who came to Kalinov from Moscow. His parents died, and he came to the Wild to get from that his share of the legacy left by Boris’s grandmother. Only the will has one condition – Boris will inherit the inheritance, if he will respectfully behave towards the Wild. Kudryash, Kuligin and Shapkin tell Boris that in this case he will never receive any inheritance.
In the garden appears a wanderer Feklusha, who praises Kalinov and especially the house of the Kabanovs. Kuligin explains to him that Kabanova is a rich merchant woman who never forgets to give to the poor, but her home does not give any life. At that time Kabanova herself enters. Together with her, her son Tikhon, daughter of Varvara and wife Tikhon Katerina. She scolds them for something, and then leaves, allowing them to take a walk on the river bank. Varvara allows Tikhon to go on a visit, and she remains with Katerina and starts a conversation about her relationship with Tikhon. Katherine reveals her secret to her, says that she feels somehow strange, she wants to spread her arms and fly. Varvara realizes
In the second act, the Kabanovs’ house appears before the readers. Tikhon is going on the road. Katerina asks Tikhon not to leave her at home, swears to him in fidelity, but Tikhon does not listen to her words and leaves. Varvara goes for a walk, passes Catherine greetings from Boris and says that Katerina said that she will sleep with Varvara in the garden in the summerhouse. She gives Katerina the key to the garden gate, and she hesitates, puts it in her pocket.
In the next action we see a bench near the Kabanovs’ house. Varvara meets her lover – Curly and, seeing Boris, tells him to wait at the garden gate. Katerina goes to Boris. She can not resist the feelings that they feel for Boris
The fourth action shows streets Kalinova. All action is collected by a thunderstorm, which begins near the end of the action. Varvara and Boris face the gallery. Varvara informs Boris that Tikhon returned, and Katerina can confess to him in her treason. Boris is frightened and asks Varvara to keep Katerina from this step. Immediately enters and herself Katerina along with her husband and mother-in-law. People are going to the gallery – a thunderstorm began on the street. Katerina waits for her to be struck by lightning. Again comes the crazy lady, threatening her with terrible agony. Katerina does not stand up and admits to her husband and mother-in-law in her relations with Boris.
The fifth action again leads the reader to the high bank of the Volga. Tikhon tells Kuligin about what happened in his family. Kuligin tells him that he could forgive his wife, but Tikhon does not consider this possible, and not because Tikhon himself does not want it, he is really very keen on Catherine, can not even think about punishment for her – his mother insists on this, and her word for Tikhon is the law. The maid Kabanova Glasha enters and informs that Catherine can not be found. Tikhon goes to look for her. Catherine enters. She talks about her sufferings and calls Boris. Boris appears. He tells Katerina that Dikoy sends him to Siberia. Catherina begs him not to leave her in Kalinov, take with him, but he refuses – and she herself understands that this is impossible. They say goodbye. Katerina with horror says that her life goes on. She leaves, and on the stage there are many people, among them Tikhon and his mother. A cry is heard that the woman rushed to the Volga. Tikhon wants to run, but his mother does not let go. Kuligin enters, he bears the body of Katerina. Tikhon rushes to Catherine with tears. He no longer listens to his mother, blames it for everything that happened. The play ends with his words: “It’s good for you, Katya!” And why did I have to live in the world and suffer? “