Events take place in the first half of the XIX century in the invented small town Kalinov. Here family of Kobanovy lives: merchant mother-woman, her adult children - Tikhon and Varvara, Katerina are a young wife of Tikhon. Stuffily Katerina in this family, severely. A husband she does not love, a mother requires him from all implicit submission, presses all and tyrannizes. And Katerina, on trouble it, fell in love Boris.