Friday, 19 October 2012

Unconditional Love of The Witch Olesya - Part 2

Today we continue to look inside the relations of the novella's main heroes.
How the protagonist finally meets witch is somehow a folklore theme. While hunting a hare in the woods with Yarmola, the hero looses the way and proceeds walking inside the forest. The barrier is a swamp he has to cross. He sees the walls of a woodman's house among the trees and, struggling to go through the marsh, he approaches it. The main hero opens the hut's door and sees only the hut's dark premises... After he calls out for some live soul, he notices an old woman sitting on the floor with a pile of chicken feathers in front of her.
Baba Yaga's hut, as pictured in the Russian fairy tales
Of note note that the main hero's thinking regarding witches is not free from "standard" beliefs. He, not knowingly, feeds his mind with superstitions. When seeing  Manuilikha, he compares her at once with  Baba Yaga, a Russian folklore character. The hero, himself, is just like Ivan from the Russian fairy tales, who stumbles upon Baba Yaga's hut and then asks her to help him.The old witch Manuilikha is not happy at all to see a stranger in her house, moreover, a young man... All because she is accustomed to live out of reach of people and she has a 25 years old granddaughter. The main hero then tries to soften her offering a coin but she has to make a spread for him  in return. While this the hero hears a woman's voice singing a song... and this is how the meeting with Manuilikha's granddaughter Olesya occurs. The protagonist asks Olesya to show him a path out of the woods and they get into a small conversation. The young man of the story gets to know that Olesya and her grandmother were indeed driven away to the forest, and she says herself the people call "Grandmother a 'witch,' a 'shedevil,' a 'jail-bird'". Would you be friendly to others after such accusations in your address?
 Furthermore, the relations between Olesya and the master develop during frequent visits of the latter to the hut. First, the conversations of the young people remind "teacher-pupil" talks, when the hero tries to educate Olesya... Nevertheless, he considers her to be very intelligent for a girl who doesn't even know how to read and has been living in the woods whole her life.
 I guess that the "witchiness", secrets, surrounding Olesya, charm the main hero more that her wit. He tries to convince himself that magic and witchcraft and witches after all, don't exist, while Olesya's belief in her curse of being able to know secrets of life and. actually, do magic, never fades away.  Oleays shows few tricks to her lover and he tries to explain it by some laws of physics...She throws herself in the embrace of love though she knows that this won't lead to any good. Olesya's ability to give her whole entity to the person she loves and never ask for same in return, is her main strength as well as weakness. In order to please her beloved she, in spite of anything, decides to go to the village church, and this is where she meets peasants' enmity towards her witch's nature. They beat and abuse her, and while she manages to escape, she curses everyone around, singing a sentence to flee this place forever.
  The main hero hurries to see Olesya after this incident and finds her covered in bruises and wounds  She explains him that now she and her grandmother have to  leave... Olesya however is happy anyway, because she was able to love...unconditionally. She only regrets that she didn't have a baby with her beloved...
The main hero can't do anything: neither stop nor follow her. He is the one who is weak and can sacrifice his love to his social status. Olesya leaves the place suddenly and all is what the main hero left is her coral necklace... May be he will now start believing in supernatural because Olesya predicted that their love won't have a happy ending...
I can't  not to make analogy with Margarita, a woman, who sacrificed her entity  and Olesya, who stayed true to her witchy nature. Both had to persuade their lovers to believe in love and both physically suffered for standing their ground. Do Russian writers consider women to be stronger than the men? Or more dedicated... or do women simply BELIEVE in the power of love? 

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