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The Frog Princess a Slavic Fairy Tale

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1934 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The story is a wonderful creation of art. Scientists interpreted it differently. Some of them are looking to characterized the fantastic design as independent of reality, while others want to understand how in the fantasy of the fairy tales the relationship of national storytellers is broken to the surrounding reality. The famous Slavic folklorist E. V. Pomerantsev gives the following definition of the fairy tales: “… folk tale is an epic oral artwork, mostly with a magical, adventurous or residential character. The end leads us to a thought. This distinguishes it from other genres of the oral prose – narrative, story, fiction. Probably the most popular and most beloved folktale is magical. Its roots are set in the distant past. All fairy tales have something common. Firstly, they are constructed in a similar way. The simple scheme of a fairy tale contains a few things: 1. Starting point – something forbidden; 2. Violation of the ban, 3. Consequences of infringement relating to the nature of mythology; 4. Practicing of some kind of magic; 5. Positive result and the safely return of the character. Each fairy tale follows that structure. None of them goes by without some sort of a miracle, in the life course an evil or a good supernatural power intervenes. Since the very beginning of the tale “The Frog – Princess” carries the reader into a strange world, unlike the one which surrounds him. A father forces his sons to take a bow and shoot an arrow in different directions: and where the arrow falls from there to get his bride. To the modern reader this seems like a strange quirk, but in course of the distant past, people attached great importance to this sort of predictions and strongly believed in fate, as they believed in themselves. It is this faith, that was preserved in the ancient motif that is shown in the story. The arrow of the eldest son fell in the boyars yard; the middle son – in the courtyard of a merchant, and the one of the youngest fell into a frogs swamp. The older brothers were happy and cheerful, but the youngest cried: “How will I live with a frog?. The brothers married: the oldest to a noble lady, the middle one to the daughter of a merchant and the youngest to a frog. The youngest brother did not receive any gifts for his wife: the frog lived in a swamp, but the older brothers marriages were successful. The ancient motif for disinheritance received a new meaning in this story. From the ancient tradition only the memory of the fact that the youngest brother had the easiest life remained. The poetic imagination has created a picture full of vivid and ironic sense – during the wedding the frog was laying on a vessel – how else was Ivan (the most common name of the youngest son) able to stay with it and keep its hand. Sad thoughts of the hero about his fate, selected his wife to be an ugly green and cold frog, are transmitted with naive simplicity and psychological clarity – “How to live? Life is not a field to pass it or a river to swim across it.” The story aims to show the character’s mental state, his experiences. Linked to the powerful forces, nature makes the hero of the tale strong. He is a man who remains faithful to the ethical standards – not looking for wealth, married to a common swamp frog, because this is his fate. As for the frog, it is a separate character, widely represented in myths and legends of many peoples. In the various mythological – poetic systems it occurs with both a positive (associated with fertility, productive forces, the revival) and negative (death, disease, pestilence) functions, defined mainly by its connection with water. In some cases, the frog just like the fish, the turtle or any other aquatic animals holds the world on his back, in others it reveals important cosmological elements. In Altay the frog supplies the forest with birch and stones from which they extracted the first fire. Sometimes the frog is associated with aquatic elements of the chaos from which the world has occurred. In Burma and Indochina the image of the frog is often represented as a spirit that swallows the moon (so the frog is considered a reason for eclipse). In China, the frogs are also associated with the moon, they call them ” heaven chickens and there is a belief that they fall with the dew from the sky. The motive for the heavenly origin of frogs enables them to be seen as reborn children or wife of the thunderer as an exiles of the land in water or in the low world. The close connection of the frog with God in Heaven is indirectly shown in the Aesop fable about the frogs questioning the thunderer for themselves. The motif that the frogs are transformed humans is well known in Australian mythology. By contrast, in Philippine mythology the frog turns into a man who fell into the water, and was transferred from his wife across a river. In German folklore, there is the image of ‘Frog Prince’; in Russian – the image of the princess – frog.

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In our story, after Ivan violates the prohibition and tosses in the oven frog skin he gets a punishment – separation from his wife. Then he met a group of characters, pretty typical of fairy tales – various animals. The childish, naive attitude towards living nature is based on the way people see the world: the existence of a reasonable beast who speaks. The stories of animals who have adopted the form and meaning from the idea and concepts of primitive people, attributing to animals the ability to speak, think and act wisely. These ideas, attributing human thoughts and deeds to animals are encountered in the vital struggle for control of the forces of nature. The first animal he saw was the bear. In every mans mind the bear is a beast, the worst forest animal. This position of the bear in the animal hierarchy is explained in connection with the traditional pre-mythological fairy tales in which it occupied a prominent place as a host of the forest. In the course of time people saw the bear as the lord, ruler of the district. In fairy tales its constantly emphasizes the enormous power the bear has. It kills everything that appears before its eyes. The bear has always been considered as a particularly important animal, one of which it should be careful about. The pagans believed that the bear was so strong that in ancient Russia in one of canonical questions asked is: “Can you make coat of a bear? The answer was: “Yes, I can. There is only such question about the bear, perhaps because it is essentially considered inviolable. It is very likely that the Slavs have had a cult of the bear. Its linked with the concepts of protector, similar to a totem. It is a proven fact that in the Slavs existed mythical idea of animals endowed with reason. This was a world from which they feared and whit which they did not want to argue. Therefore, man observed various rituals and magical rites. This also applies to the other animals encountered by the protagonist. The duck, the rabbit and the pike that Ivan spares later serve him faithfully. In fairy tales it is common motive for the grateful animal to become a loyal friends and helpers of the man. Beasts take the side of man, when he showed generosity and doesnt cause them harm. The explanation is simple – the beast returns the positive with positive. Another explanation comes from the ancient times. In almost all nations it was a custom to kill a bird or an animal as a sacrifice. Perhaps talk of grateful animals reflected the meaning of these ancient traditions. The emergence of tales of animals preceded stories related to beliefs about animals. These stories have not yet had a parabolic effect. The animal image had to do with animals and nothing else. Totems concepts exist and ideas were transmitted to the animal features of mythical creatures, the animals were revered. These stories reflected the ritually – mythical and magical concepts and ideas. It still is not exactly art. Stories with mythical character are told with a moral and didactic purpose and show people how to deal with beasts. By virtue of certain rules, people have endeavored to make the animal world under its influence. This was the initial stage towards the inception of a fantastical intent. Later on it were based on animal stories. To the images of ancient life arose the images of women assistants, wizards and witches. Fairy tales rarely pass without a story about the hag. She lives in the woods in an old house and meets with the traditional hero spells. V. Prop in his study writes stories that the hag is not the image of a living person. According to him, the smell of living is so contrary and terrible to the dead as that of the dead is to the living. Baba Yaga is dead. She lies and leads her immortal life in its small and narrow house just like in a tomb. Baba Yaga is blind and ugly, she sees not the hero, but feels his smell. In her personality people see the ancestor female line inhabiting the border separating the living from the dead. The cult of the ancestors in the female line is associated with the cult and the totemism towards nature. This explains the special power the old lady has over the living nature. In some tales Baba Yaga is replaced by a goat or bear. Baba Yaga herself has the ability to transform into birds or beasts. Her proximity to the mythical image of the ruler of nature explains the special nature of her crooked feet. Baba Yaga tells Ivan that his wife is at the home of the immortal Koshtey and tells him how to deal with him. With the image of Koshtey it is expressed the world of violence. Undoubtedly Koshtey is representative of this social force that breached the ancient habits of generic equality and has claimed the woman’s previous social role. In fairy tales Koshtey is always presented as a kidnapper of women who became slaves. He is also owner of vast riches. In fairy tales Koshtey is indicated as high, elderly man with burning eyes. More than a century, he has been killing people but he himself is immortal – his death is hidden in the egg, the egg in the nest, the nest of oak, oak – on the island and the island – in the endless sea. The beginning of the life is materialized through the egg and by shattering it there can be an end. The story does not settle with the injustice and kills Koshtey immortal. Resorting to imaginary means of vengeance, his life was terminated by a naive but intelligent way – the embryo breaks. In this episode, the reader meets partial magic, characteristic for fairy tales. For Koshteys death in stories is told: “… at the end of the needle and the needle is in the egg, the egg inside the duck, the duck in the rabbit, the rabbit is inside a stone box and the box is on top of tall oak and this oak that Immortal Koshtey keeps like his eyes …”. The hero overcomes all obstacles, takes the needle in hand, breaks the thread “… no matter how much Koshtey fought, how much he was flicking back and forth, he died …”. So he is finally doomed to die because good always must beat the evil as a secret human desire.

This completes the Slavic folk tale “The Frog – princess, which is fairy tale – a prime example of the Russian national art. Fairy tales find their roots deep in the psyche, in the perception, in the culture, language and myths of all nations.

Vardaliev, Yaneva, Gegova 1


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