identified based on dress, and many of the higher-ranking people spoke French. Hence,Khlestakov
s use of French at certain points in the play contributes to his deception.His life did not end pleasantly: he burnt the manuscripts of many of his works. Towards theend, he would starve himself as part of ascetic practices, eventually leading to death frommalnutrition and exhaustion.
Gogol wrote of the Mayor:
A man grown old in the service, and in his own way extremely shrewd.Despite bribe-taking, he conducts himself with dignity; grave in demeanour, even rathersententious; speaks neither loudly nor softly, neither too much nor too little. His every word issignificant. His features are coarse and hard, someone who has worked his way up from the ranks.Rapid transitions from fear to joy, from servility to arrogance, reveal a man of crudely developedinstincts. Routinely dressed in official uniform, with braided facings, top-boots and spurs. Shortgrizzled hair.
As the head of the town, his corruption shows that the behaviour was institutionalised andwidespread. Given that he governs a small, remote town, such actions would go unnoticedand unpunished.
Gogol wrote of Khlestakov:
A young man of about twenty-three, slim-built, almost skinny; a littlescatterbrained, with, as they way, not a great deal upstairs; one of those people in government
service referred to as ‘nitwits’. Speaks and acts without a thought. Q
uite incapable of concentratingon any particular idea. His delivery is rather staccato, and he says the first thing that comes into hishead. The more naivety and simplicity the actor brings to this role, the more successful he will be.Dressed in the height of fashion.
Khlestakov is quick to take advantage of any situation to benefit himself. In the inn, themoment he is given some food, he complains and demands more. After the Mayor arrivesand he realises that they intend to treat him well, he takes everything they offer,exaggerating his own stories to build a better picture of himself. The prime example of this