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AT: The Young Hopeful; The Infant A: Denis Fonvizin Pf: 1782, St Petersburg Pb: 1783 Tr: 1933 G: Com. in 5 acts; Russian prose S: Prostakov's country estate, Russia, 1780s C: 12m, 3fThe ‘minor’ is the lazy, spoilt 16-year-old Mitrofan, whose father Prostakov is tyrannized by his grasping and boorish wife. On their estate are their ward Sophia and an aristocrat Pravdin, who has been secretly sent to follow up reports that Madam Prostakova has been ill-treating her serfs. Prostakova, who has illegally seized Sophia's estate, is hoping to marry her to Prostakova's brother, who is however only interested in his pigs. When news comes that Sophia's rich uncle is on his way, Prostakova decides that Sophia would be a good catch for her son. However, Sophia falls in love with a new arrival Milon, a handsome army officer. When her uncle refuses to approve Sophia's marriage to either Prostakova's brother or her son, Prostakova attempts to kidnap Sophia but is prevented by Milon. Pravdin reveals his identity and orders that Prostakova should be held to account for her treatment of the serfs. Her power gone, Milon and Sophia are free to marry.

AT: The Young Hopeful; The Infant A: Denis Fonvizin Pf: 1782, St Petersburg Pb: 1783 Tr: 1933 G: Com. in 5 acts; Russian prose S: Prostakov's country estate, Russia, 1780s C: 12m, 3f

This is the only 18th-century Russian play still regularly performed in Russia today. Owing an obvious debt to Holberg, the play is a typical neo-classical comedy: the action takes place in one location and in just over 24 hours, and there is very tight plotting. What brings the piece to life, however, is the range of strong characters, all bearing symbolic names, which would provide comic types for generations of Russian dramatists.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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