"Marriage" was written by Gogol in 1842. Immediately upon its publication, it has been the subject of numerous discussions and the most contradictory opinions. Gogol was accused that he brought to the stage "little people" - the merchants and petty officials, plunged the reader into the lives, concerns and interests of "ordinary" people.
Indeed, the heroine of the play becomes a merchant's daughter Agafya, for who, according to all the rules of her class, groom matchmaker Thekla Ivanovna looks for the broom for her. The court counselor Podkolyosin woos for the bride, a clerk Yaichnitsa, a retired infantry officer Anuchkin, and a sailor Zhevakin.
"Marriage" can be called the first Russian comedy of domestic manners. It showed that it is possible to describe the life of ordinary people. The play has everything what makes this life: funny and sad, high and low. And Gogol realistically describes selected by him environment, without exaggerating, without using fiction.
The plot of the comedy is simple and unpretentious. Petty officer Podkolyosin decides to marry. We immediately realize that what he is most interested in is not the bride, whose name he did not even remember, but her dowry. But not only that causes the hero to think about the wedding. Gogol shows that for the "little man" marriage is a very important event in life, elevating him in his own eyes. Podkolyosin hinks that everyone – a tailor and a shoemaker – having learned of his intention, should immediately evaluate this important event and began to respect the hero.
About the bride, we learn that she is the daughter of a merchant of the third guild and wants a husband "certainly a gentleman." In the image of Agafya Gogol collected all the typical features of a girl of her class. The heroine spends all day at home, bored and dreams of her "chosen one." Gogol shows the ignorance and lack of education of merchant environment: Agafya unconditionally believe various divinations, superstitions, and determines her life relying on them.
About superficiality of the heroine say the criteria on which she is going to choose a husband. This, above all, outer advantages: age, height, composition, pleasing appearance, name and so on. Yes, and Podkolesin has his own "ideal" of a wife in his head. He somehow is convinced that she should speak French, and have a short nose.
Agafya’s monologue, in which she tries to choose a husband, is very comical. The heroine refers to the applicants as to things - trying to make from all of them one perfect portrait: "If Nikanor Ivanovich’s lips yes to put to the nose of Ivan Kuzmich, and take some familiarity, what Balthazar Baltazarovich has, and perhaps to add to this corpulence of Ivan Pavlovich - I would then immediately say “yes".
Featuring characters and these thoughts when choosing a topic, Gogol wanted to show the falsity, hypocrisy, artificiality of people’s lives. One should marry for love, having to the person some sincere affection, sympathy. But heroes of the comedy do not think of this.
That is why, perhaps, so few happy people Gogol sees around him. This is what he is sad about in his play, showing, as always he does, "laughter through tears", reflecting the serious through funny, the important through "small", and "empty".