At the beginning of the story the author introduces the reader to the passengers of the train, between which a lively conversation is fastened on a very delicate topic for the time: whether the divorce is acceptable, whether education is necessary, how it is better to marry, and most importantly whether love should be present in marriage. Moreover, the dispute in the early is going on between an old-merchant and a middle-aged lady, and then covers the rest of the audience.
Only one person did not initially participate in the debate: the strange, nervous uncommunicative master, who, for all the attempts, was impossible to involve into the talk. But suddenly everyone has heard "a sound like laughter or sobs interrupted" and the question "What kind of love blesses the marriage?" Alas, he was convinced that this bright feeling cannot happen in one’s life. And if people live in a marriage, hating each other, willing to separate, and yet continue to live together, then it is not life, but a real hell. It turned out, the name of that person was Pozdnyshev and fate presented him with a very sad lessons. Yielding to the request of the passenger neighbor, he began his dismal story.
Before getting married he has been the landowner and the candidate at the University and led very dissolute lifestyle, while being deceived and believing that he is a moral person. Only torment forced to realize what the root of evil was.
He lived as a fornicator to the age of thirty, with the knowledge that will never have his "simple, clear, brotherly attitude towards women." And suddenly he fell in love. This was followed by marriage. But Pozdnyshev, even in wedlock, felt constant pang of jealousy. Quarrels and scandals about trifles become commonplace things. Everything happened in front of frightened children.
Pozdnyshev had various plans: how to get rid of this woman, how to become free from her reproaches and tantrums, her obnoxious character. His wife was nervous, left the house, and two emotions were fighting within him - anger and at the same time concern: where is she, what is with her. There was a case: the spouse even poisoned with opium, closing in her bedroom. Then she fortunately was saved. But to live because of the constant bickering became unbearable.
And then Truhachevsky appeared – a music teacher. Pozdnyshev’s wife liked him immediately, and he liked her. Violin lessons became an excellent occasion to cover blazed up love. Pozdnyshev did not object Truhachevsky became a teacher of his wife, on the contrary, insisted on it. Truhachevsky began to come on the appointed days, was very polite and elegant, besides, and had a rather special talent. He won another man's wife, and she threw herself into a new love, surrendering to an overwhelming feeling of passion.
Did Pozdnyshev notice? Yes, and not only noticed, but also feared. He was particularly polite with Truhachevsky, regaled dinner, expensive wine, wanting to prove himself that was not afraid of the opponent. But when one day he found the two of them, he felt self-pity and some terrible anger. Entering the room, he saw a familiar picture: she as always stood at the piano, and he played the piano. They behaved as if nothing had happened, and yet Pozdnyshev felt that it was a sham.
It was time for Truhachevsky to leave and Pozdnyshev again politely and gently saw him off. It rose hatred for his wife - for the fact that she was flirting with the teacher, that did not protect the family's honor. He was restrained, but later expressed all his anger. She seizes the opportunity, stung him in the most sensitive spot, recalling how once he behaved rudely with her sister. Anger rose in him with such a force that he was not responsible for himself. But this time the woman fled, then all night writhing in hysterics, and calmed down only in the morning.
On Sunday, guests gathered, and the wife with Truhachevsky played before them all the "Kreutzer Sonata" by Beethoven. And suddenly Pozdnyshev realized what a terrible thing music was. He was convinced that the "Kreutzer Sonata" could be played only in certain, important circumstances and in no way with the women in low-necked dress.
The next day Pozdnyshev went to the county. It would seem, at first glance, that innocent letter from his wife that "Truhachevsky brought the promised notes" re-awakened in him a terrible jealousy. Two voices seemed to have struggled within him - one said there is no reason for betrayal, and others argue the opposite: "Why cannot this happen?" Entirely tormented by bad assumptions Pozdnyshev decided to go home.
Back home Pozdnyshev, as expected, immediately saw the overcoat of Truhachevsky. He had no doubts about the guilt of his wife and decided to punish lovers, so the beast tore his soul no more. Jealous husband grabbed the dagger and rushed into the room. When he saw them together, wave of jealousy overwhelmed him. Ridiculous excuses meant nothing. Truhachevsky saw a real danger, immediately run away, and his wife suffered retaliation of theenraged spouse who began to choke her, hit the left arm and elbow in the face, and then - with a dagger in the side.
After all that has happened he went to his room. He sat aloof, thoughts confused. From thinking Pozdnyshev was distracted by a quiet knock at the door. His wife's sister, a good but silly widow, appeared in the doorway and said, "She's dying."
And he got up, and went to her. He went into the room and saw a terrible picture: a wounded woman lying on their bed, with a swollen face. He expected that she would repent, would ask for forgiveness, but in her eyes shone a blatant hatred. The last conscious word of her was "hate," and then delirium, which lasted until her death. His wife died on the same day, at noon.
The horror of the act Pozdnyshev realized only on the third day, at her funeral. Something happened because of him that could not be fixed. And then – prison, waiting for trial and permanent remorse. Alas, sometimes remorse comes too late. One who has not experienced it cannot understand. Thus ended the dismal story of a strange passenger. He poured the soul in front of complete strangers, but did he feel better? Everyone sat in silence for a long time, it was evident that this revelation shocked them.