Very brief summary
In one county town, they learned of the auditor's imminent arrival with an inspection. All the officials are worried: everyone has sins. When they see in the hotel an official from St. Petersburg, Khlestakov, they take him for a revector.
Skvoznik-Dmukhanovsky, the town governor, advised him to put all the institutions in order urgently.
After issuing instructions, the town governor went to the inn to inquire about Chlestakov. He could not leave the town until he had paid for his lodging, but he had lost his last money.
Seeing each other for the first time, the mayor and Chlestakov were frightened. Chlestakov began to justify that he was waiting for money to be sent to him. Gorodnichy took his words as a hint of a bribe. Khlestakov took the money. Gorodnichy takes him to his house and shows him the town.
Khlestakov frightened the locals, making up stories about his high powers in his service in St. Petersburg. Local officials gave him bribes. Khlestakov was rejoicing at his good fortune, and only his servant immediately realized that the gentleman had been mistaken for someone else and persuaded him to leave before the deception was exposed.
The awful truth was discovered: it was not the Auditor. The arrival of the real inspector has left everyone in shock.
Detailed Retelling by Acts
The names of the acts are conditional.
Action 1. The Inspector in the City
The town steward has gathered everyone in his house.
I have invited you, gentlemen, to tell you unpleasant news. The inspector is coming to see us.
Lyapkin-Tyapkin, the superintendent of the hospital, the superintendent of schools, the private bailiff-all were shocked.
The townspeople did not like the town governor for exceeding his authority. Everyone had his sins. Liapkin-Tiapkin believed that "sins are sins," and did not hide the fact that he takes bribes with greyhound puppies. He also suggested a war was imminent. But the town steward has answered that their town is not a border town: "You will not reach any other country from here, even if it takes you three years.
The mayor began to advise what measures to take in order to deceive the inspector. He advised Zemlyanik to reduce the number of patients, Lyapkin-Tyapkin to remove his personal belongings from the court building and keep an eye on the eternally drunk assessor, the superintendent of schools - to keep an eye on the teachers' strangeness.
The postmaster appeared and was asked by the town governor to "print and read every letter that arrives. The postmaster confessed that he always does this out of curiosity.
Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky run into the town governor's house.
They began to tell each other that they had seen Chlestakov in the inn. The landlords assume that it is the inspector. The mayor ordered that the street be urgently swept and the unbuilt church be made to look as if it had been burnt down during construction.
Gorodnichy went with Dobchinsky to see Khlestakov, to find out "if the passers-by have any trouble". As he was leaving, his wife and daughter appeared. The wife scolded her daughter for her long packing in front of the mirror and was very anxious to learn the latest news.
Action 2. Meeting the Auditor. The first bribe
A small, poorly furnished room in an inn. Khlestakov's servant pondered aloud that his master does not know how to handle money: Khlestakov's father sends him money, and he will squander it in a week. And now, on his way home from St. Petersburg, Khlestakov had squandered all the money, the last of which he had lost, and could not pay for his room and board.
Khlestakov comes in and asks about dinner. The servant replied that they would not let him borrow any more. Finally they were given dinner, but only of two dishes: soup and stew. Khlestakov was indignant at the poor food and the lack of sauce, but he ate it and shared it with the servant.
The town governor arrives at the inn. Chlestakov has decided that the innkeeper has denounced him and now he is afraid of going to prison. The mayor entered Khlestakov's room, and for several minutes they looked at each other in dismay. He says he does not want to go to prison and will complain to the Minister. Gorodnichy understood his words in his own way, began to justify himself, offered to move Khlestakov to a better apartment, and when he heard about the Minister, he became even more frightened.
Soon Khlestakov confessed he did not have a penny, the town governor took these words as a hint for a bribe. Khlestakov asks to lend him 200 roubles. The mayor gave him 400, thinking that things would "get better" now.
When Khlestakov said that he was going to Saratov Province to see his father, the mayor finally believed that he was a revisitor: he knew that the place was going to be inspected. Gorodnichy settled his debts for the hotel, moved him into his own house, offered to show the guest a hospital and a college, wrote a note to Zemlyanika and his wife and asked Dobchinsky, who accompanied him, to take it.
At the hospital Khlestakov is treated with a provincial madera which "does not look pretty, but would knock down an elephant".
Action 3. The Inspector in the house of the town master
Dobchinsky gives the town governor's wife a note with an instruction to make a room for Khlestakov. The mother and her daughter begin to inquire about the inspector, and then quarrel over the choice of dresses.
After his servant, who brought the suitcase of the master, Khlestakov, accompanied by officials, arrives at the mayor's house. The mayor told Khlestakov about his imaginary achievements in the town, telling lies, that he does everything not for honors, but for the well-being of the townspeople. Zemlyanik himself noted the mayor's ability to speak beautifully.
What a bum! God gave him such a gift!
Khlestakov began to tell of his service in St. Petersburg, greatly exaggerating everything. He went so far as to say he played cards with ministers and went to the palace every day. Everyone went home in terrible amazement.
The mother and her daughter were delighted with the guest, and the town governor decided that though Chlestakov was bragging, he was a serious man, in spite of his appearance. While Khlestakov was resting, the town governor, his wife and daughter were questioning the servant, who guessed before his master that he was mistaken for someone else. The servant also lied and received money "for tea... for baranki".
The policemen were instructed not to let the beggars into the town governor's house.
Action 4. Bribes from officials. Complaints of the petitioners. The matchmaking and the departure of the inspector
Officers in uniform appear at the mayor's house.
The first to see Khlestakov was Lyapkin-Tyapkin, whose hand fell out during the conversation. The judge was frightened, and Khlestakov simply asked him for a loan. Lyapkin-Tiapkin gave the money and bowed out. Khlestakov decided that "the judge is a good man!"
The postmaster entered next. Khlestakov asked him for a loan too. He gave it to him and left. Khlestakov thought he was a good man.
The teacher was so frightened that he could not speak properly, so he gave him money and ran out.
Zemlyanika came in, sat down nearer to Khlestakov and whispered the whole truth about the town and its inhabitants. He also paid a bribe.
Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky arrive. Khlestakov at once asks to "borrow a thousand roubles. They only had 65 rubles in their pockets. Khlestakov took this money, too. Dobchinsky asked Khlestakov to help legitimize the birth of his eldest son. And Bobchinsky - to tell all the nobles that "Pyotr Ivanovich Bobchinsky lives in such a town".
When everyone had gone, Khlestakov decided to write a letter to his friend, writing articles, and tell him about the stupid locals.
The servant began to persuade the master to leave, warning him that a real inspector might soon appear. Khlestakov finally agreed, asked to take the letter for his friend to the post office and order a troika of horses.
Merchants came to the house with gifts and began to complain about the town governor. The locksmith complained that her husband was taken as a soldier instead of the merchant's son. The non-commissioned officer told how she was flogged by mistake. Khlestakov promised them help, and banished the other beggars, because they were bored.
The mayor´s daughter enters and Chlestakov begins to show off for her, talking of love and beautiful eyes. She flirted with him, but when Chlestakov kissed her on the shoulder she became indignant. Chlestakov began to kneel, begging forgiveness and saying he did it out of love.
The mayor´s wife came and saw Khlestakov kneeling in front of his daughter and threw her out of the room. Chlestakov threw himself on his knees in front of her, finding his mother still appetizing. At that moment the daughter ran in. The mother attacked the daughter with scolding, but suddenly Khlestakov grabbed the daughter's hand and asked for their blessing. The disappointed mother scolded her daughter again.
The town governor runs in and says that the merchants and women have slandered him. His wife noticed that their daughter had been proposed to. The town governor did not believe it at first, but then he was very happy.
Ay Anton! Ay town governor! Look at the way things are going!
Khlestakov's servant returned from the post office and reported that the horses were ready. Gorodnichy was surprised, and Khlestakov said he only had to leave for one day to visit his rich uncle. Gorodnichy gave Khlestakov more money.
Action 5. It was not the revisitor
The mayor and his family looked forward to speedy changes: he dreamed of rewards and his wife dreamed of the best house in St Petersburg.
Important townspeople, landlords, officials came and congratulated the mayor on his good fortune. A panting postmaster appeared.
Amazing thing, gentlemen! The official we thought was the inspector was not the inspector.
The postmaster spoke of Chlestakov's letter. Everyone was sorry for the lost money and remembered that it was Dobchinsky and Bobchinsky who had mistaken Khlestakov for the inspector.
A gendarme appeared to announce the arrival of the inspector, who demanded the mayor to see him at his hotel. A silent scene reigned: some were shocked, some were perplexed and there were those who were overjoyed at the woes of the mayor.
The retelling is based on edition of the play from Gogol's Collected Works in 14 volumes (M.; L.: USSR Academy of Sciences 1951).