Summary and Response Paper





Summary and Response Paper


Baba Yaga is a common witch in Russian folktales. She has also appeared in Ukrainian and Belarusian stories. Many scholars have identified her multiple origins that have combined pagan deities and sorcery. She first appeared in pre Christian Russia and her character was magnified in stories during the nineteenth century. There is no definite person representing Baba Yaga. In many cases, there are three different characters, who in most cases tend to be sisters. In other cases, the character of Baba Yaga defies death because she resurrects every time she is killed. Baba Yaga does not ascribe to any religion or deity. She is powerful and independent. She does not conform to any standards and she has the autonomy to decide whether to kill or help those who seek her. She does not fit the idea of westernized witches. She is ugly, lives in a hut that rotates on chicken legs, and a cannibal. She murders those she pleases and she uses different methods to kidnap people. Her main victims are young women and children. Baba Yaga lives in the forest and her three daughters assist her. She controls and protects the forest, which is her domain and the animals revere her. She knows the secret of the water of life and even when she dies, another takes her place.

Baba Yaga has ceased to be a Russian character as her fame has spread all over the world. Many folktales tell of her wondrous and dreadful actions. She is kept alive in different artistic forms such as paintings, book illustrations, movies, digital images, and all manner of artifacts. Despite her global presence, she remains a Russian character. Baba Yaga managed to exist because of the tradition of telling oral tales. This prevented the government, religion, or upper class society from censoring tales about her. Some of the tales concerning Baba Yaga are similar to other stories in the European, Arabian, and Middle Eastern traditions. However, the Russian Baba Yaga is different because she always turns against or supports the main character and she ends up becoming the main personality. Although she acts as the divine protector of Russian pagan wisdom, she is harsher with the Russians than with any other group. The tales told about her demonstrate her willingness to teach the hard way. She expects the people to take on values such as kindheartedness, bravery, uprightness, respect, and perseverance. The stories cover diverse themes that are common in many traditional folktales including family strife, class struggles, incest, and the desire for immortality among others.


It seems that the author has a deep admiration for Baba Yaga. He has identified ways that show how the character has contributed to making the Russian traditional folklore global. He speaks positively of Baba Yaga even when he seems to exhibit negative personalities. The characters negative aspects and ambiguous nature only seem to drive him more. I think that the author has tried to present objective observations of Baba Yaga. Although many traditions present the character differently from the Russian tradition, the author has attempted to highlight all attributes associated with the character. His passion concerning the Russian tradition and knowledge is clear and this makes the readers more interested in Baba Yaga. By reading this portion of the text, I was tempted to find out more about him and form my own analysis.

The writer has researched deeply about the issues presented, especially the character of Baba Yaga. He has examined how many scholars and other authors have depicted the character of Baba Yaga in literature and other forms of art. Those who have written about the character seem to focus on different aspects. He has researched work from different countries and he has compared them to Russian literature. This has helped to present a wholesome view of the character. Furthermore, I think that it leads to greater understanding of Baba Yaga. The reader will approach the character with an open mind, knowing that she does not conform to specific ideals.

Reading about Baba Yaga is interesting because the character deviates from the norm. In many cases, people are used to folktales that resemble a Hollywood story whereby every thing has happy endings. All the people live together happily ever after and the bad characters suffer the consequences of their actions. However, the tales concerning Baba Yaga are different. I think that aside from the exaggerated features and abilities of the character, they present a more realistic depiction of life. They demonstrate to the reader that life is not always as predictable as many stories would have us to believe and that bad things do happen to good people as well. Not every person is rewarded for the nice things she has done and magic is not always a good thing. Such lessons are important and they help people prepare for the harsh realities of life. However, I think that Baba Yaga fails in some ways. This is because many folktales are primarily directed at children. The stories are meant to teach the children moral lessons about life and to show them how they should relate and interact with each other. The Baba Yaga tales fail to do this and they focus on heavy issues such as murders and incest.  

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