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The Vampire - Russian Fairy Tales

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Background Edit

The concept of Vampires began with a story from the mid 1400’s about a Slavic prince who wanted to cleanse his kingdom of impurities (poor people, disease, unethical people) and chose to eliminate them in the most excruciating ways. After this story, vampires appeared more and more in stories and tales, specifically in Eastern Europe. A popular story originating from Eastern Europe entitled The Vampire is about a young girl who is seduced by a very attractive vampire, who ends up having more sinister motives behind his advances on this girl. The idea of someone being drawn to a vampire and manipulated into doing certain things or abandoning reason comes from the thesis that states that the “Fear of the Monster Is Really a Kind of Desire”, meaning “the monster awakens one to the pleasures of the body, to the simple and fleeting joys of being frightened” (Cohen 17). This thesis is so popular within the culture of vampires, and is seen in a number of well-known media. Such as Dracula and TwilightAlthough the development of Dracula has been diversified throughout the years, certain types such as the Dracula from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is portrayed as attractive and hypnotic. Both he, and Edward Cullen effortlessly attract people to them, almost like a Venus fly trap. In The Vampire the girl is enthralled with the young man, only to discover that he is a vampire when she is prompted to follow him to a church where she sees him feeding on a corpse. He knows that she saw him, but she is too frightened to tell the truth. So he continues to kill her family members every time she lies (Afanas’ev 596). This a further intimation of the idea that the monster both attracts and frightens. It just goes to show that this idea and others like it have resonated throughout folklore and tales, ranging from the ancient origin to hundreds of different renditions and variants. 

Works Cited 

Afanas'ev, A. N. "The Vampire." Russian Fairy Tales. United States: Planet, 1945. N. pag. Print.

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. "Monster Culture (Seven Theses)." Speaking of Monsters (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

Summary of The Vampire Edit

The tale of The Vampire takes place in a kingdom where a man and woman resided. They had a lovely daughter, Marusia, who danced well. One evening, Marusia joined the girls of the town in celebration of the holiday St. Andrew. The young gentlemen began arriving at nightfall and shortly after, a dashing man entered. He was handsome, danced wonderfully, and showered the gals with goodies. It was not long until he spotted Marusia, whom he clung to the entire night. When the evening was over, the young man invited Marusia to take a stroll with him outside. She gladly obliged and when they walked, he asked Marusia if she would marry him. Marusia told him that she would be happy to do so. When Marusia got home she told her mother the news of marriage plans. Her mother then instructed her to find out where he lives by looping yarn onto one of his buttons, then following the line of thread to his home after the conclusion of the party. Marusia went to the gathering the next day as planned and it was not long before the fine man arrived. They danced and celebrated until the night came to an end. Just as before the young gentleman said, "Marusia, come walk a little way with me." and Marusia went [1]. She swiftly attached the loop over his button before departing and later followed the line of thread to the young man's residence. The yarn brought her to the front of a church and upon peering through the window, she saw the man whom she was to marry consuming a body straight from a coffin. She was so terrified that she stumbled and made a noise. She ran all the way home without looking back and in the morning her mother questioned her. "Well Maruisa, did you see that young man?" [2] Marisa avoided the topic and gave a short response to her mom. That night, Marusia hesitated to go to the party but was pressured to by her mother. She went to the celebration where the man asked her again to walk outside with her. He asked her if she had seen him in the church and she said that she had not. He told her that her father was to die the next day. Just as the vampire, disguised as the handsome man, had said, Marusia's father laid dead the next day. The next evening, the vampire asked her the same questions and she responded no just as she had the previous night. Because of her response, Marusia was told by the vampire that her mother would now die. The next day her mother lay dead and Marusia attended the party that night. The vampire asked her one again if she had seen what she was doing in the church and she responded with the exact same answers. He told her that now, she was going to die. Scared for her own life, Marusia went to get advice from her Grandmother. After hearing all of the details, her grandmother told her to make sure that upon her death, the priest carries her out of her house through a hole in the ground then buries her body at the crossroads. Marusia died, just as the vampire had said she would, and the priest followed her burial directions. Not long after Marusia was buried, a flower began to bloom out of her grave. A boyar and his son dug up the flower and planted it in their home. One evening a miracle occurred and the flower fell to the flower turning into a stunning maiden who was Marusia. The man living in the home asked the beautiful maiden to be his wife and Marusia said she would as long as they did not attend church for four years. The man agreed, they wed, and had a child. One day they had company over and the two husbands got into a disagreement regarding whose wife was superior. Due to an insult Marisa's husband received regarding Marusia not attending church, the husband commanded that they go to church that following Sunday. Marusia did as she was commanded and when they arrived at the church, the vampire was sitting there. He, again, asked Marusia if she had seen him that one evening at the church and she said no. He told her that the next day her husband and son would die. She went to her grandmother who gave her holy water and water of life and the next day, her husband and son laid dead. The vampire came to her and asked for a final time if she had seen what he was doing in the church. She finally gave her truthful answer and then sprinkled holy water onto the vampire. He vanished to dust and the water of life was used to revive her deceased husband and son. They were brought back to life and lived happily ever after together.

  1. The Vampire p.595
  2. The Vampire p.595

Russian Fairy Tales: The History Edit

The book "Russian Fairy Tales" was written by a man by the name of Alexander Afanasyev. These tales were gathered and published between the years of 1855 and 1863. Russian folktales were once banned in the 11th century but are now extremely popular and important to they heritage. Russian's use stories and folktales as a means of entertainment and tend to not take them as seriously as traditional songs.

Themes Edit

Death: Death is often seen as a theme that promotes authentic self-realization by putting characters through horrendous amounts of anxiety. The tale of The Vampire exudes this theme by placing the main character, Marusia, in the clutches of a vampire who is using death as a means to extract the truth from her. In addition, this fairy tale uses the death of those close to Marusia as a means to an end due to the fact that the vampire has used his power over humanity to convince Marusia to reveal her dishonesty.

Limitation: Limitation is a theme used in this fairy tale to convey the immobility that individual’s suffer when a bond has been formed with a vampire. In this case, Marusia is forced to limit herself to attending the gathering where she initially met the vampire as well as refrain from delving deeper into the intellectual side of her pursuer without putting herself in danger.

Monster Culture in The Vampire Edit

Cohen’s seven theses of monster culture can be used as a guide in many fairy tales including Dracula or Van Helsing and The Vampire is no exception. The most prevalent of Cohen’s seven theses is Thesis V: The Monster Policies the Borders of the Possible. Cohen says, “The giants of Patagonia, the dragons of the Orient, and the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park together declare that curiosity is more often punished than rewarded, that one is better off safely contained with one’s own domestic sphere than abroad, away from the watchful eyes of the state.” In The Vampire we see Marusia steps outside the boundaries of her domestic sphere as she follows the vampire to the church. Following Cohen’s guidelines in Thesis V, is was to be expected that Marusia would ultimately face danger because she acted on her curiosity thus breaching the walls of her domestic sphere.
220px-Alexander Afanasyev 7

Alexander Afanasyev [1]

References Edit

  1. Information regarding Alexander Afanasyev: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Fairy_Tales

2. Russian folktales and traditions: http://www.russia-ic.com/culture_art/traditions/545/#.WORB1RiZO7o

3. Some of Russia's most famous fairy tales: http://www.greatrussiangifts.com/famous-russian-fairy-tales/

4. Cohen's Monster Culture:

http://www.englishwithtuttle.com/uploads/3/0/2/6/30266519/cohen_monster_culture__seven_theses__3-20.pdf 

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