Khlestakov: the image and characteristics of the main character of the comedy "The Inspector General"

Nikolai Gogol's comedy "The Inspector General" ridicules the environment and foundations of public life in Russia first half of the 19th century ... The main character of this play is a petty St. Petersburg official Ivan Aleksandrovich Khlestakov. He is central to the action.

The personality and behavior of this hero, along with other reasons, caused the officials of the county town to mistake him for an auditor. Characteristics of the image of Khlestakov will help to study deeper the picture of depraved morals and criminal reality.

The meaning of the Khlestakov surname

It is interesting that in the early versions of the play, Gogol called the main character Khlaskov, Skakunov, Perepelkin. These surnames were more suited to the character of vaudeville, and not comedy, so the author, in order to emphasize the novelty of the image of the protagonist, called him Khlestakov.

This surname comes from the word Whip that has many meanings. Khlestakov of them includes the following:

  • gossip, lie;
  • hlesko - rake, red tape, impudent;
  • Khlestun is a parasite, an idle connecting rod.

The name of the protagonist reveals the traits of his character: love of idleness, unwillingness to work, idle talk, the ability to lie smartly, impudent red tape.

Age, origin, occupation

Ivan Aleksandrovich Khlestakov - a young man years 23 ... he is a nobleman, the son of a landowner who lives in the Saratov province in his own village.

In St. Petersburg, the main character served as a minor official (collegiate registrar) in the office of the department. His career did not work out, since, according to the servant Osip, he did not do business, instead of going to work, he often walked along the avenue and played cards. The hero's father, realizing that his son would not be able to achieve a promotion, summoned him to his estate.

Appearance, speech characteristics

In Notes for Messrs. Actors, the author of the comedy notes that Khlestakov is a “thin, thin” young man dressed in fashion. Dobchinsky, conveying his impression of the newcomer to the mayor's wife, says that he is brown-haired, and "his eyes are as quick as animals."

Gogol writes that “his speech is abrupt, and words fly out of his mouth completely unexpectedly,” since he cannot concentrate on one thought.

Khlestakov speaks incoherently, jumps from one subject to another in conversation, does not finish the phrase, says a lot of unnecessary words, for example: "I am also different vaudeville girls ... I often see writers" .

When talking with the ladies, he inserts into his speech a few French words and phrases that he knows, for example, "Kompren wu" ... At the same time, his speech combines prosaism with a lofty style. "You speak the capital city" , - exclaims Marya Antonovna with delight (act 5, phenomenon 12).

Attitude to life

Khlestakov is a windy, frivolous person, representing the type of people who were called empty in the office. He is smart and dandy, quickly squandering his father's money to satisfy his vanity. Then he sends Osip to the market to sell his tailcoat. After receiving a new payment, everything is repeated. Khlestakov says: "After all, you live for this to pick flowers of pleasure" ... Living in St. Petersburg, instead of paying more attention to the service, he had fun: he walked along the avenue, watched vaudeville in the theater, played cards.

Khlestakov does not want to live in the village where his father summoned him from Petersburg. He says to the mayor: “Why, in fact, should I ruin my life with the peasants? Now the needs are not those, my soul longs for enlightenment " (action 2, phenomenon 8).

Character traits and behavior.

Khlestakov is not an evil or rude person, but he is a little stupid, he likes to show off in front of the ladies, he loves to eat deliciously, dress fashionably and walk along the avenue, visit theaters.

He ingenuous and was not at all going to impersonate an auditor or another high official. It was the alarmed officials and the fearful governor who pretended that he was an auditor, and Khlestakov quite unintentionally played along with them. In general, for a long time he did not realize that he was being mistaken for an inspector, but innocently thought that everyone was pleasing him because they wanted to please him and introduce him to the city.

Khlestakov - frivolous and stupid person ... These features were manifested in the fact that he left the city on time only under the pressure of the cunning and prudent Osip.

He cowardly , fears that the mayor will put him in jail for unpaid dinners. When he enters the room, Khlestakov turns pale, cringes and looks at him, eyes bulging in fear.

Then, in the course of the conversation, the hero perceived a threat in the demonstrative concern of the mayor, and this prompted him to justify and even defend himself: he says that the dinner at the hotel is terrible, why should he put up with it.

When the mayor invites him to move to another apartment, Khlestakov again understood it in his own way - that he was hinting at a prison. The frightened young man again defends himself and even threatens hysterically, proudly declaring that he is serving in St. Petersburg.

Hero likes to boast, to lie ... When he settled in the mayor's house, in a conversation with his wife, he began to brag about how wonderful he lives in Petersburg. Moreover, in a letter to S. T. Aksakov, Gogol writes that Khlestakov forgets that he is lying, and he himself begins to believe what he says. He lies with inspiration, with feeling.

The main reason for his lies is the desire to assert himself, because he understands that he is insignificant and uninteresting for others.

Attitude towards Khlestakov of other characters

The main thing in relation to the main character of the mayor and other officials is fear and servility ... Fear grows because the auditor turned out to be strange: thin, thin. "How do you know who he is!" - says the mayor (act 3, phenomenon 9).

The governor's wife Anna Andreevna and daughter Marya Antonovna were from Khlestakov excited . “… What a subtle appeal! now you can see the metropolitan thing " , - exclaims Anna Andreevna (act 3, phenomenon 8). She considers him an educated, secular person.

City landowner Dobchinsky delighted Khlestakov, he says about him: "... Not a general, but will not yield to a general: such an education and important actions, sir" .

Servant Osip sees the flaws of his master but, of course, does not dare to lecture him. Osip pronounces morals for him only when he is alone. He condemns and even despises the master for the fact that he likes to show off, quickly spends money, and then sends Osip to the flea market to sell his tailcoat so as not to sit hungry.

How Khlestakov's image develops throughout the play

At the beginning of the play, we see the cowardly protagonist, who, although he is afraid to go to prison, is cheerful.

When the mayor, mistaking him for an inspector, invites him to move from the hotel to his house, the simple-minded Khlestakov does not realize that he was mistaken for another person. After visiting the charitable establishments, the hero says that he likes the fact that people passing by are shown everything in the city here. "They didn't show me anything in other cities" , - he innocently adds (act 3, phenomenon 5).

Khlestakov was not at all going to impersonate a nobleman, but dinner in a charitable institution with all sorts of wines contributed to his talkativeness and eloquence. He himself forgets that he is lying about his luxurious life.

The hero does not guess for a long time why there is such respect for him, and only in the fourth act, after he was given a lot of money on loan, did he realize that the officials took him for a statesman, perhaps for a governor-general.

Typical character of the hero

N.V. Gogol pointed to the typical character of Khlestakov, in the sense that people who are not devoid of good dignity have some of Khlestakov's character traits. In a letter to ST Aksakov, the author of the play wrote that everyone "at least for a minute, if not for a few minutes, was or is being done by Khlestakov."

Revolutionary writer A. I. Herzen wrote about Nicholas Russia: "There are no definite views, no definite goals, and the eternal type of Khlestakov, repeated from the volost clerk to the king."

Evaluation of the hero by the author and literary critics

N.V. Gogol in a letter to S. T. Aksakov, he wrote that Khlestakov is a person "empty, as they call it, but containing many qualities that belong to people whom the world does not call empty."

In Remarks for Messrs. Actors, the author pointed out: "The more the person performing this role shows candor and simplicity, the more he will benefit."

The opinions of literary critics about Khlestakov's image are different.

V. G. Belinsky did not consider Khlestakov the main character of the comedy (as opposed to Gogol), he called the mayor such a person. The critic wrote that "Khlestakov appears in the comedy not by himself, but quite by accident, in passing, and, moreover, not by himself ..."

Critic Apollon Grigoriev wrote that Khlestakov becomes bolder in boasting under the influence of favorable circumstances, that he does not act with the expectation: "He does not care, everything is tryn-grass."

Soviet critic A. K. Voronsky believed that Khlestakov "is devoid of any core, he is the one they want to make of him." The governor made him a "inspector", the officials, obsequiously listening to him, made him a liar, and the governor's wife and daughter made him a womanizer and groom. He leaves the city only when Osip convinced him. “He obeys in everything,” writes A. K. Voronsky.

Soviet and Russian literary critic Yu. V. Mann believes that this image is an artistic discovery of Gogol, that it differs from the traditional type of comedy intriguer by "sheer unintentional", which is unusual for a "conscious liar, impostor."


Khlestakov is one of the most famous images of Russian literature, a typical character. The concept "Khlestakovism", derived from his surname, means lies, boasting.

Gogol's innovation is that in the comedy "The Inspector General" he created the bold character of a simple-minded liar, radically rethinking the traditional type of schemer that was usually present in comedies.

The characteristics of the Khlestakov image presented in the article can be useful for preparing for a literature lesson and when writing essays.

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In the scene of lies, the tipsy Khlestakov constantly talks out, reveals his true position: he is on a friendly footing with the "very" head of the department, they even wanted to make him a collegiate assessor; he lives on the fourth floor in a tenement house, where only minor officials settled. After lunch, intoxicated with wine and universal respect, Khlestakov begins to brag without restraint


The tipsy Khlestakov begins to lie and brag more and more. Seeing that everyone around him assent, Khlestakov gives free rein to his imagination. Moreover, he is not at all going to deceive the officials and the mayor's wife for some selfish purpose, but lies out of inspiration, himself beginning to believe in his own significance. While “showing off” in front of Anna Andreevna, Khlestakov at first rather modestly exaggerates his position in society: “Perhaps you think that I’m just rewriting; no, the head of the department is with me on a friendly footing. " Khlestakov blurts out: it is not hard to guess that he was just doing the rewriting. It turns out that Khlestakov wrote The Marriage of Figaro, Robert the Devil, Norma and Yuri Miloslavsky. When the mayor's daughter notices that the last work belongs to Zagoskin, Khlestakov agrees, adding: "... and there is another" Yuri Miloslavsky ", so that one is mine." True, the lying Khlestakov unexpectedly reveals the true picture of his metropolitan existence: “As you run up the stairs to your fourth floor, you will only say to the cook:“ Na, Mavrushka, greatcoat ... ”. But the narrator catches himself: he and “forgot "That lives" in the mezzanine. "

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