The Queen of Spades

The Queen of Spades Literary Elements


Short story; realistic fiction with supernatural/surreal elements.

Setting and Context

The action takes place in Moscow, Russia in the early 1800s.

Narrator and Point of View

The story is told by a third-person omniscient narrator; the point of view switches between characters, staying mostly with Hermann and Liza.

Tone and Mood

The tone of the story is matter-of-fact and naturalistic. The mood of the story oscillates, at various times romantic, anxiety-inducing, and haunting, depending on the character's point of view.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Hermann is the story's protagonist; the antagonist is the Countess, who withholds her secret and later haunts Hermann.

Major Conflict

The major conflict is that Hermann's extreme greed pushes him to risk his sanity and humanity to attain the Countess's gambling secret.


The story reaches its climax when Hermann loses his third faro bet and then goes insane.


There is an instance of foreshadowing when Hermann says he would never sacrifice something essential to win something superfluous; in the end, he sacrifices his savings and humanity in order to get rich.



Liza reflects that Hermann resembles the French ruler Napoleon.




Metonymy and Synecdoche