Baba Yaga and Domesticity: Gender and Identity in Russian Folktales and Literature

Natalya Brill


Russian folklore is the voice of Russian culture and is essential to understanding the Russian psyche. Folktales are a significant component of folklore, and have heavily influenced contemporary Russian literature. The relationship between women and domesticity is exhibited in Russian folktales and literature. The contemporary Russian author Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, for example, uses cказ (skaz, stylized “spoken” writing) in her modern ‘fairy-tales for adults.’ In Petrushevskaya’s works, female characters exhibit traditional Russian stereotypes and are often representations of Baba Yaga. This thesis examines women’s roles in Russian society associated with domesticity, motherhood, and sexual relationships. Through a character analysis of Baba Yaga, the iconic Russian witch, depictions of women in folktales and Petrushevskaya’s short stories are discussed.