Summary “Woe from Wit”

Alexander Sergeyevich Griboyedov “Woe from Wit” brought worldwide fame. In this comedy, the mores of the Moscow nobility of the 19th century are presented in a satirical vein. The main conflict erupts between Chatsky, the representative of a new generation of nobles, and the society of Famusov, in which it is customary to value not man but his rank and money. In addition, there is also a love conflict in the play, of which three characters are participants: Sophia, Chatsky and Molchalin. These story lines are closely intertwined and flow from one another. The summary “Woe from Wit” on actions will help to understand in more details the problems of the play.

Main characters

Pavel Afanasevich Famusov – the manager in the state house, Father Sophia. For him, the main thing in a person is rank. He is very concerned about the opinion of the world about him. FAMUSOV is afraid of educated people and enlightenment.
Sofya is the 17-year-old

daughter of Famusov. From the cradle raised by the father, since her mother died. Smart and courageous girl who is ready to resist the opinion of society.
Alexei Molchalin is the secretary of Famusov, who lives in his house. Silent and cowardly. He, a man of an unfamiliar kind, warmed Famusov and gave him the rank of assessor. He is in love with Sophia.
Alexander Chatsky – grew up with Sophia. Was in love with her. Then he went to wander around the world for 3 years. Clever, eloquent. He prefers to serve the cause, not for the people.

Other characters

Lizanka is the servant of the Famusovs, who helps Sophia keep secret visits to Molchalin.
Colonel Skalozub is a stupid but very wealthy man. He’s calling the generals. He is named for Sophia’s wife.

Step 1

The first action of the play “Woe from Wit” begins with the scene where Lizanka, a servant in the Famusovs’ house, wakes up in armchairs with complaints that she has not slept well. The reason is that her mistress Sophia was expecting a friend – Molchalina. Lisa

had to make sure that their meeting was kept secret from the rest of the household.

Lisa knocks at Sofya’s room, from where the sounds of a flute and a piano are heard, and tells the young mistress that the morning has come, and it’s time to say goodbye to Molchalin so as not to be caught by his father. To speed up the process of farewell lovers, Lisa translates the clock. They begin to beat.

Famusov, the father of Sophia, finds Lisa behind this occupation. During the conversation Famusov obviously flirts with the servant. Their conversation is interrupted by Sophia’s voice, which calls Lisa. Famusov hastily retires.
Liza starts to reproach Sophia with imprudence. Sophia bids farewell to Molchalin. Famusov appears at the door. He wondered why his secretary Molchalin was here so early. Molchalin asserts that he was returning from a walk and went to see Sophia just now. FAMUSOV angrily chastises his daughter, for having found her with a young man.

Lisa recommends that Sofya be more careful and beware of bad rumors. But Sophia is not afraid of them. However, Liza believes that Sophia and Molchalin do not have a future, because Famusov will not allow the marriage of his daughter with a poor and unskilled person. The most profitable party for Sophia, according to his father, is Colonel Skalozub, who has both ranks and money. Sophia replies that it’s better to drown than to marry Skalozub, because he is very stupid.

In a conversation about Lisa’s mind and foolishness, she recalls the old story of the youthful tender love of Sophia and Alexander Andreevich Chatsky, who differed in both gaiety and an extraordinary mind. But it’s a matter of years gone by. Sophia believes that this could not be considered love. They just grew up with Chatsky. There was only childhood friendship between them.

A servant appears in the doorway and reports to Sophia that Chatsky has arrived.

Chatsky is pleased with the meeting with Sophia, but is surprised at the cold reception. Sophia assures him that she is glad to meet. Chatsky begins to remember the old years. Sophia calls their relationship childishness. Chatsky wondered if Sofia was in love with someone, because she was so embarrassed. But the girl says that she is embarrassed by the questions and views of Chatsky.

In conversation with Famusov Chatsky admires Sophia, says that she has never met anyone like this. Famusov fears that Chatsky will not ask his daughter.

After the departure of Chatsky, Famusov is still thinking about who of the two young people occupies the heart of Sophia.

Step 2

In the second phenomenon of the second action, Chatsky is interested in Famusov, what would he have answered if he had made a bid to Sophia. Father Chatka’s beloved says that it would not be bad to serve the state and get a high rank. Chatsky pronounces the famous phrase: “It would be nice to serve, it’s sickening to serve.” Then Famusov calls Chatsky a proud man and cites as an example his uncle Maxim Petrovich, who served at the court and was a very rich man. And all thanks to the fact that he knew how to “podsluzhatsya.” Once at a reception with Catherine II, he stumbled and fell. The Empress laughed. Summoning her smile, he decided to repeat his fall two more times, but already on purpose, thus giving the Empress pleasure. But, thanks to his ability to wrap such an incident for himself, he was in high esteem. The ability to “wait”

Chatsky pronounces a monologue, in which he compares the “present century” and “the century past.” He accuses the generation of Famusov of judging a man according to ranks and money and calling that time the age of “obedience and fear.” Chatsky did not want to be a clown even before the sovereign himself. He prefers to serve “business, not individuals.”

Meanwhile, on a visit to Famusov Colonel Skalozub comes, which is very pleased Famusov. He cautions Chatsky against uttering free thoughts.

The conversation between Famusov and Skalozub concerns the cousin of the colonel, who, thanks to Skalozub, received many advantages in his service. However, on the eve of obtaining a high rank he suddenly left the service and went to the village, where he began to lead a measured life and read books. Skalozub speaks of this with an evil sneer. Such a way of life is unacceptable for the “Famous society”.

Famusov admired Skalozub because he had been a colonel for a long time, although he served only recently. Dreams of Skalozub about the general’s rank, and he does not want to deserve it, but “get it.” Famusov wondered if Skalozub was going to marry.

Chatsky enters into the conversation. FAMUSOV condemns his free-thinking and unwillingness to serve. Chatsky responds with a monologue that it is not for Famusov to judge him. According to Chatsky, there is no role model in Famusov’s society. Representatives of the Famus generation despise freedom, their judgments are outdated. Their customs are alien to Chatsky. Before this society, he will not bow his head. Chatsky is indignant that in the world everyone is afraid of people who are engaged in science or art, and not the receipt of ranks. Only the uniform covers the lack of morality and intelligence in the FAMUS society.

Sophia resorted, frightened by the fact that Molchalin crashed, falling from the horse, and fainted. While Lisa tries to bring the girl to the senses, Chatsky sees a healthy Molchalin in the window and realizes that Sophia was in vain for him. Sophia, waking up, asks about Molchalin. Chatsky responds coldly, which is all right. Sophia accuses him of indifference. Chatsky finally realizes who Sophia’s heart is in, because she so carelessly betrayed her quivering attitude to Molchalin.

MOLCHALIN reproaches Sophia for expressing her feelings too frankly. Sophia does not care about someone else’s opinion. Molchalin is afraid of rumors, he is cowardly. Lisa recommends that Sofya flirt with Chatsky in order to ward off suspicion from Molchalin.

Alone with Lisa, Molchanin frankly flirts with her, compliments her, offers gifts.

Step 3

At the beginning of the third act, Chatsky tries to find out from Sophia who she is charming: Molchalin or Skalozub. Sophia leaves the answer. Chatsky says that he is “crazy” from the love of her. In conversation it turns out that Sophia appreciates Molchalin for gentle temper, modesty, quietness, but again avoids the direct declaration of his love for him.

In the evening in Famusov’s house a ball is planned. The servants hastily prepare for the meeting of the guests.

Guests are coming. Among them Prince Tugoukhovsky with his wife and six daughters, Countess Khryumina, grandmother and granddaughter, Zagoretsky, gambler, master to all to serve, Khlestov, Aunt Sophia. All these are influential people in Moscow.

MOLCHALIN goes down to the fact that praises the smooth fur of Spitz Chlestova to achieve its location. Chatsky noticed this and laughed at the courtesy of Molchalin.

Sophia reflects on the pride and anger of Chatsky. In a conversation with a certain Mr N, she casually says that Chatsky is “out of his mind.”

The news of Chatsky’s madness spreads among the guests. When Chatsky comes in, everyone runs away from him. Famousov observes signs of insanity in him.

Chatsky says that his soul is full of sorrow, he feels uncomfortable among these people. He is dissatisfied with Moscow. He was angered by the meeting in the next room with the Frenchman, who, gathering in Russia, was afraid that he would fall into the country of the barbarians, was afraid to go. And here he was met with affection, he did not hear Russian speech, did not see Russian faces. He seemed to be at home. Chatsky condemns the dominance of everything foreign in Russia. It is repugnant to him that everyone admires France and imitates the French. While Chatsky was finishing his speech, all the guests dispersed from him, danced in a waltz, or went to the card tables.

Step 4

In the fourth act, the ball ends and the guests begin to leave.

Chatsky hurries the footman to give the carriage faster. This day dispelled his dreams and hopes. He ponders why everyone thinks he is crazy, who let this rumor, which everyone picked up, whether Sofia knows about it. Chatsky does not know that it was Sofya who first declared his madness.

When Sophia appears, Chatsky hides behind the column and becomes an involuntary witness of Lisa’s conversation with Molchalin. It turns out that Molchalin is not only not going to marry Sophia, but also does not feel any feelings for her. Lisa’s maid is much nicer to him, he directly declares this to her: “Why is it not you!” He pleases Sophia only because she is the daughter of Famusov, whom he serves. Sophia accidentally hears this conversation. MOLCHALIN rushes to his knees and asks for forgiveness. But Sophia pushes him away and orders her to leave the house by morning, otherwise she’ll tell her father.

Chatsky appears. Sokju reproaches that for the sake of Molchalin she betrayed their love. Sophia declares that she could not even think that Molchalin would be such a scoundrel.

Famusov resorts with a crowd of servants with candles. He did not expect to see his daughter with Chatsky, because she “herself called him insane.” Now Chatsky understands who let the rumor about his madness.

Famusov is indignant, scolds his servants for not having looked closely at his daughter. Lisa sends “to the hut”, “to go after the birds”, and Sophia herself threatens to send “to the village, to her aunt, to the wilderness, to Saratov.”

Chatsky utters his last monologue that his hopes were not justified. He hurried to Sophia, dreamed of finding happiness with her. She blames her for giving him false hope and did not say directly that their childish love for her does not mean anything. And he lived only these feelings and lived all three years. But now he does not regret the break. In Famusov society he does not belong. He is going to leave Moscow forever.

After the departure of Chatsky Famusov, only one thing worries: “What will Princess Marya Aleksevna say?”


The comedy “Woe from Wit” became a landmark in the history of Russian culture and literature. It presents the issues that worried the society after the war of 1812, shows the split that took place in the nobility.

A brief retelling of “Woe from Wit” makes it possible to present the breadth of the themes and problems of this work and the features of the disclosure of the storylines. However, he does not convey the linguistic wealth of the comedy, which is famous for the abundance of expressions that have become “winged.” We recommend you read “Woe from Wit” by Griboyedov in full, to enjoy the subtle authorial irony and the famous ease of the syllable of this play.

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Summary “Woe from Wit”