Dmitry Nekhlyudov, a nobleman, is summoned to serve on the jury in criminal court. As the prisoners brought in, he is shocked to recognize one of them: a woman he once loved. Katusha was a common girl raised by Nekhlyudov's rich aunts; she was only sixteen when Nekhlyudov had seduced her during one of his visits. She had gotten pregnant and gave birth to a child who later died in a hospital for foundlings. Nekhlyudov had no intention to marry Katusha. He had quickly forgotten about the affair and went on with his life. Now he learns that what was only a brief adventure to him had ruined Katusha's whole life. She is now a prostitute, charged with theft and poisoning. The jury finds her not guilty of theft and believes that while she may have administered the poison she did so unknowingly. However, the jury inadvertently fails to put the words “no intent to take life” in the verdict, and Katusha is sentenced to hard labor in Siberia.
Realizing that he was the one who pushed Katusha onto the wrong path and feeling guilty, Nekhlyudov attempts to correct the mistake, but there is not much he can do. His conscience awakes, he goes through a deep transformation. He decides to follow Katusha to Siberia and to marry her. When he meets with her and tells her that, she, of course, does not believe him. However, her defenses slowly go down as she sees that Nekhlyudov's change of heart is full and sincere.
This report prepared by Laura Southcombe