Dead Souls | Study Guide

Nikolai Gogol

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Course Hero. "Dead Souls Study Guide." September 29, 2020. Accessed September 26, 2023.


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Nikolai Gogol

Year Published





Drama, Satire

Perspective and Narrator

The story is recounted by an unnamed omniscient narrator who functions as a stand-in for the thoughts and feelings of Nikolai Gogol (1809–52). The narrator tells the story of Chichikov and his quest to obtain dead souls but also interjects to provide subjective ruminations and explorations of Russian culture and society.


Dead Souls (1842) is written in the past tense with the occasional aside in the present tense. The story of Chichikov is told in the past tense whereas the discussions of Russian society veer into the present tense to make observations about contemporary Russia.

About the Title

The souls of the title are another way to refer to serfs who were the people who worked the farms on the estates belonging to Russia's upper and middle classes and whom Chichikov attempts to buy as part of an elaborate mortgage fraud scheme. The novel is a satire of Russian society and the book mocks the vain, vulgar, disinterested, and greedy people Chichikov meets as the souls of these characters are as dead as the peasants who once worked their lands.


This study guide for Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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