Besides Ba’ba Yag’a, who is certainly the wisest, the most mysterious & the most impressive woman one can discover in the Russian fairy-tales, there are static female characters interested to be analysed.
Unlike the folklore of ther nations, keeping great images of beautiful, powerful & wise ladies, the Russian one could harldy provide anybody of the kind. I suspect this attitude comes from the duality of our perception as I have already mentioned in previous posts. For Russians women in tales are divided: they are either beautiful and if they are their beauty passes beyond any limit or they are wise and if so, they are too intelligent & even able to conquer the whole world. Traditionally main female characters, faincées of various Ivans, are maidens 15-18 years old approximately. A rare tale mentions about their own family & if so as a rule it is a weird one & makes maidens suffer a lot. And there is always a mystery how & where they learned their crafts, magic & how many Ivans they accepted before the necessary one to have finally reached them.
Those female characters who are described as beautiful might be capricious, spoiled, selfish & stupid, while their opposites are kind, compassionate, have a good contact with the nature & animals & are able to solve any problem. Maybe that’s the root of out eternal Russian evil: “weak men & strong women”. If we compare plots, we might notice that beautiful women are more preferable in our tales than wise ones. The Russian men are afraid of intelligent women, so that might be a reason why our folklore diminishes their presence.
Another favourite personage are foreign princesses. They often appear in our tales & are usually promoted as the most extraordinary women in the world. They are not only beautiful but wise, know the magic, to do everything about the house & to solve any problem: from sock darning to calm a statal rebellion. Strangely enough, all of them speak Russian & give Ivans a very warm welcome when they kidnap them.
All stated above might make you think, Esteemed Readers, that the Russian men used to have a rich imagination. They did & yet they do!