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The Government Inspector, a play by Nikolai Gogol: A Critical Review of the Gossip of Zemlyanika

Within Nikolai Gogol’s The Government Inspector play, Artemi Philippovich Zemlyanika engages in gossip; Zemlyanika makes certain unconfirmed assertions about Judge Ammos Fyodorovich Lyapkin Tyapkin, Ivana Kuzmich Shpyokin, and Luka Lukich Khlopov. Although he serves alongside these three individuals within the local government, Zemlyanika speaks ill of these three colleagues. To this end, Zemlyanika claims that Judge Tyapkin has had illicit sexual liaisons with Pyotr Ivanovich Dobchinski’s wife. Further, Zemlyanika alleges that Shpyokin, the Postmaster, does not convey packages and letters to their intended destinations. Moreover, Zemlyanika claims that Khlopov encourages school children to adopt dangerous revolutionary ideals. This essay analyses The Government Inspector to highlight Zemlyanika’s gossiping habits based on the following behaviors: Zemlyanika claims that Judge Tyapkin has had illicit sexual liaisons with Dobchinski’s wife; Zemlyanika alleges that Shpyokin does not convey packages and letters to their intended destinations; and Zemlyanika claims that Khlopov encourages school children to adopt dangerous revolutionary ideals. By claiming that Judge Tyapkin has had illicit sexual liaisons with Dobchinski’s wife, Zemlyanika engages in gossip. In this regard, Zemlyanika alleges that, whenever Dobchinski is away, Judge Tyapkin and Dobchinski’s wife engage in informal discussions. Thanks to these informal discussions, Judge Tyapkin has impregnated Dobchinski’s wife. As a result, Dobchinski’s wife has borne children who resemble Judge Tyapkin (Gogol & Sykes, 1892).

Interestingly, Zemlyanika does not provide proof to confirm that Judge Tyapkin has actually had illicit sexual affairs with Dobchinski’s wife. Given this lack of substantiating evidence, Zemlyanika engages in gossip. Moreover, Zemlyanika carries on his gossiping habits by alleging that Shpyokin, the Postmaster, does not convey packages and letters to their intended destinations. As the Postmaster for the District, Shpyokin should ensure that packages and letters are delivered to the intended destinations in a prompt manner. By claiming that Shpyokin does not execute this duty (Ibid.), Zemlyanika suggests that Shpyokin is a rogue Postmaster. Strikingly, Zemlyanika does not provide any evidence to confirm that Shpyokin actually engages in this malpractice. Given this lack of substantiating proof, it is clear that Zemlyanika’s allegations constitute gossip. Zemlyanika carries on habit of engaging in gossip by claiming that Khlopov encourages school children to adopt dangerous revolutionary ideals. In this regard, Khlopov is the Director of Schools in the District. By holding this position, Khlopov is a representative of the federal government within the District and should thus advance government agendas. Nevertheless, Zemlyanika claims that Khlopov breaches federal government principles by encouraging children to embrace anti-government revolutionary principles (Ibid.). Interestingly, Zemlyanika does not provide proof to affirm that Khlopov actually engages in this breach of government principles. Considering this lack of substantiating evidence, Zemlyanika merely engages in gossip.

In conclusion, within The Government Inspector, Zemlyanika engages in gossip in several ways. For example, Zemlyanika claims that Judge Tyapkin has had illicit sexual liaisons with Dobchinski’s wife. Moreover, Zemlyanika alleges that Shpyokin does not convey packages and letters to their intended destinations. Further, Zemlyanika claims that Khlopov encourages school children to adopt dangerous revolutionary ideals. It is interesting that, through gossip, Zemlyanika engages in war with fellow government officials. With this concept in mind, it would be insightful to investigate the conduct of Russian government officers within the late 1800s.

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