The court counselor Podkolesin is lying on the couch with a pipe and thinking that it would not hurt yet to marry, urging servant Stepan, whom asks about matchmaker, about visit to the tailor, about the quality of the suit cloth and if the tailor asked why master needs such a fine cloth and if he wants to marry. Turning then to shoe polish and discussing it in as much details Podkolesin laments that marriage is such a bustling thing. Matchmaker Thekla Ivanovna appears and tells about the bride Agafya, a merchant's daughter, her appearance, her reluctance to marry a merchant, but only a nobleman. Satisfied Podkolesin tells matchmaker come the next day, she accuses him of laziness and said that soon he won’t be able to marry. Kochkarev, a friend of Podkolesin, runs into the room and scolds Thekla, that she has warried him off, but, realizing that Podkolesin thinks to marry too, takes the most active part in it. Inquired in matchmaker about home of the bride, he packs Thekla off, intending to marry Podkolesin himself. He paints charms of family life and certainly is convincing him, but Podkolesin rethinks about the strangeness of the fact that he was not married, and now suddenly married. Kochkarev explains that now Podkolesin is simply log and does not make any difference, but soon he will be among small children, and all like him. Absolutely going to go, Podkolesin says it's better tomorrow. With abuse Kochkarev takes him away.
Agafya Tikhonovna with an aunt Arina Panteleimonovna, reading the cards reminds of the late Agafya’s father, of his grandeur and solidity, and is trying to draw the niece’s attention to the merchant of the cloth line Alex Starikov. But Agafya stubborns: he is a merchant, and his beard is growing, and a gentleman is always better. Thekla comes, she complains about her troublesome case: she has visited all the houses, but has found at least six bridegrooms. She describes the suitors, but dissatisfied aunt starts quarrelling with her about who is better - a merchant or nobleman. The doorbell rings. In the terrible confusion everyone runs away, Dunyasha runs to open. The newcomer Ivan Yaichnitsa, a clerk, reads the dowry document and counts what is available in fact. Appears Nikanor Ivanovich Anuchkin, looking for in a bride the knowledge of the French language. Mutually hiding the real reason for their appearance, both the grooms expect next. Balthazar Baltazarovich Zhevakin comes next, a retired lieutenant of marine, from the doorway commemorates Sicily, and this forms a general conversation. Anuchkin asks for education in Sicily and is shocked by the statement that all the polls, including men, speak French. Yaichnitsa is curious about the men there and their habits. Arguments about the strangeness of some of the names are interrupted by the appearance of Kochkarev and Podkolesin.
The bride, accompanied by her aunt comes out, grooms introduce themselves. Kochkarev recommends Podkolesin exposing him almost as a manager of department. There Starikov appears. General conversation about the weather, downed by Yaichnitsa’s direct question about what the service would like Agafya Tikhonovna to see in her husband is interrupted by confused flight of the bride. Grooms leave thinking to come in the evening for a cup of tea and discussing if the bride's nose is not too big. Podkolesin deciding so that the nose is too big, and she does not know French tells his friend that he does not like the bride. Kochkarev easily convinces him of incomparable virtues of the bride, and took the word of Podkolesin not to give up, wants to get rid of the rest of the grooms.
Agafya cannot decide which of the suitors to choose and wants to throw a lot. Kochkarev appears convincing to take Podkolesin, because he's a miracle man, and the rest are rubbish. After explaining how to refuse suitors (saying that is not yet time to get married, or too simple: go out, you fools) Kochkarev runs for Podkolesin. Yaichnitsa comes, requiring a direct answer: yes or no. Zhevakin and Anuchkin are following. Confused Agafya blurts out "go out" and is frightened by Yaichnitsa’s view. Kochkarev enters, having left Podkolesin in the hallway, and explains the taken aback suitors, that the bride is a fool, has no dowry and does not know French. Grooms scolded Thekla and go away, only Zhevakin did not change his mind to marry. Kochkarev sends him too and promises him participation and undoubted success in courtship. To the embarrassed bride Kochkarev certifies Zhevakin as a fool and a drunkard. Zhevakin eavesdrops it and is amazed with a strange behavior of his patron.
Kochkarev brings Podkolesin, leaves alone with his bride and makes him open his heart. Talks about riding in a boat, the desirability of a good summer ends with nothing: Podkolesin leaves. However, he is returned by Kochkareva, who has already ordered dinner, a travel to the church in an hour imploring his friend to marry without delay. But Podkolesin leaves. Having awarded a friend with a variety of unflattering nicknames Kochkarev hastens to return him. Agafya is awaiting a groom. Kicked in the room Podkolesin cannot get down to business, and finally Kochkarev asks Agafya’s hand for him. Everything is arranged and the bride is getting dressed in a hurry. Podkolesin, so pleased and grateful, left alone, because Kochkarev goes to look whether the table is ready. The idea of the irreversibility of what was about to happen, embarrassed and then scared him. He decided to flee, and let it be through the window, if he cannot through the door, he jumps out of the window and drives a cab.