Maxim Gorky portrays a group of intellectuals, who, detached from society, turn to science, art and love only to realize too late that their ideas do not rhyme with the harsh reality. The play’s protagonist, the scientist Protassov, has withdrawn with his wife and his sister to the parental home where he is working madly on a visionary idea: the potential of mankind to overcome its biological limits to found a new society. He is oblivious to everyone around him and cuts himself off from the rumours of revolt and cholera engulfing the city. He loses himself in experiments and talks with the artist Wagin, who is trying to court his wife, and the veterinarian Chepurnoy, who asks for his sister’s hand in marriage but is repeatedly turned down. Feverishly, they discuss great ideals and the potential of mankind while leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. A lack of sympathy and social conscience leads to an escalation in the situation both within and beyond the estate walls. Their utopian visions to be like children of the sun are eclipsed by forces which they themselves have ignored for too long.