Nikolai Gogol's "dead soul" short summaries

Essay by geranium_alphaB-, October 2002

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Dead Souls takes place in the Russia of the late 1800s, where, unlike in America, one must be born into a prosperous family in order to have opportunities. The main character, Chichikov, is clever enough to develop a scheme in which he can rise from being a petty clerk to a respected landowner. In order to do this, Chichikov moves into a new town, pretending to already be a landowner, and begins a quest to buy the names of dead serfs who have not yet been officially reported dead. Each person that Chichkov presents this offer to has a different reaction, starting with the shy and introverted Manilov. Though he does not understand Chichikov's need for the names of these dead serfs, Manilov is a character that is so desperate for company that it does not take any effort to trick him into selling his dead souls cheaply. However, as Chichikov continues his journey, he starts to deal with more clever landowners who become suspicious of his scheme.

Chichikov finds that the townsmen known as Sobakevich and Nozdrev are much harder to negotiate with. This is because they are more and attempt to trick Chichikov even though in truth, Chichikov is the one who is playing the trick on them. Nozdrev agrees to sell Chichikov his serfs under the condition that he can sell him something else along with the serfs, such as a horse or a pair of hunting dogs. Chichikov, of course, refuses the offer because he owns no land and has nowhere to keep any horses or dogs. Because of this, Nozdrev curses Chichikov and orders two of his guards to beat him up. However, by sheer luck, the police show up at that exact time to arrest Nozdrev because of crimes he committed in...