Satire in the government inspector.

Authors Avatar

English Oral:

Satire in the government inspector.


The government inspector is a comedy about a group of local officials of a small town in tsarist, Russia who hear about a government inspector who is investigating the town, travelling incognito. Thrown into a panic, the governor and his dysfunctional cronies desperately struggle to stifle public dissatisfaction whilst blaming their many misdemeanors on each other. A penniless rake who arrives in town is mistaken as the government inspector. Taking advantage of his power, he fools all the dignitaries, as a result, leaves a good deal richer.  


  • Written during the repressive regime of Czar Nicholas I.
  • Russia of the tsars in the 19th century was an absolute monarchy.
  • No cabinet, no prime minister (since court feared this would threaten the power of tsar)
  • Major inefficiency, since no overall coordination of policy.

What is satire?

  • A type of literary device that ridicules human foolishness.
  • It seeks to degrade certain aspects of society and gain a different perspective.
  • By exaggerating the discrepancies that exist, the different perspectives are born.
  • Uses laughter as a weapon by employing humor and wit in the form of irony, innuendo, or derision.
  • Using these tools, satirists force us to examine things from a different perspective to achieve enlightenment.
  • Ultimate goal: to improve society, to make us aware of our flaws.

Satire in “The Government Inspector”

  • Paints a picture of absolute power and mechanisms of totalitarianism.
  • Theme: government corruption.
  • Use of satire employs wit in the form of irony to expose human folly in Tsarist Russia.
  • Satirizes the corruptible nature of power, the cupidity and stupidity of bureaucratic officials.
  • Uses satire to attack materialism and venality of bureaucracy.
  • Reveals the moral bankruptcy of a political system that is so impoverished that corruption and bribery become ingrained and accepted as a way of life.
  • Thus, the government inspector is a parody on the inefficient bureaucracy.  Gogol wanted to ridicule all that was bad at that time.
Join now!

What does the satire reveal about the characters?

  • The whole administration is corrupt, from the mayor and judge to the hospital.

Illustrative examples:

The Governor.

  • Only when they learn that the government inspector is arriving do they put some order in the administration.
  • ‘accepts bribes, but with dignity’.  How is it possible to act dishonestly, yet retain your self-esteem and respect?  The governor is eager to gain prestige.
  • ‘he is far from being a fool’-ironic because he was fooled by the ‘government inspector’.
  • Has imposed a tax on merchants out of greediness.
  • He has pocketed ...

This is a preview of the whole essay