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Pavlovskaya A. V. Folk fairy tales and Russian mentality (a part of the book “Russian world: character, way of life, morals and manners”)

Fairy tales can tell you an enormous amount about a people and its character traits. In particular, this is typical for Russian fairy tales. The work overviews most popular Russian fairy tales in comparison with European ones. Ivan the Fool is the most frequent Russian hero. He looks unremarkable and does what are at first glance stupid and unnecessary things, without any desire for wealth or fame. At the same time, his older brothers, who are clever and practical, get into stupid situations. Ivan the Fool’s strength (and this shows the special folk ideal) is in his simplicity, his candour and his lack of a mercantile and pragmatic nature.  Nobody tales him seriously, and that is his strength. He is naïve, compassionate, impractical, and non-talkative, so ‘clever people’ think he is an idiot, while for the Russian people he is a hero.

The heroines of Russian fairy tales are wise, hardworking, loyal, quiet, gentle and modest. They often save the hero by getting him out of  the most difficult situations, they give him advice and do his work for him, and not infrequently they are able to work miracles. The heroine forgives his stupidity and keeps true to the end. For her, love and marriage are always fated, which cannot be changed.    

Baba Yaga is a supernatural being who appears as a deformed and ferocious-looking woman. Baba Yaga may help or hinder those that encounter or seek her out. More often, she appears to be a good housekeeper (that is most important) and she help the hero.

Some other national features are always mentioned in fairy tales: laziness, faithfulness, love for the country, hospitality, absence of logic and common sense, faith of miracle, importance of the word, disapproval of money-making and acquisition. 

Keywords: Russian fairy tales, Russian national character, Ivan the Fool, Baba Yaga. 

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