The Tsar leaves, and during his absence the Tsarina had a daughter. But the queen dies, as soon as her husband returns. The king grieves for a long time, but a year passes, and a new queen appears in the palace. This woman is very beautiful, but her temper is heavy: she is envious, cruel and willful. The queen has a magic mirror that can speak: every day the queen admires her reflection and always asks the mirror if she is the most beautiful woman in the world. And for many years the mirror truthfully answers that there is nobody more beautiful in the world. But her stepdaughter grows unnoticed. The groom appears at the princess. The queen, dressing herself in front of the mirror, as usual, asks if she is the most beautiful woman in the world, waiting to hear the familiar: “You, the queen, are all dearer.” But this time she hears that she is not, but the princess, her stepdaughter, is the most beautiful in the world.
Chernavka, the queen’s maid, really lures the princess into the forest wilderness, fulfilling the will of her cruel mistress. The princess guesses that Chernavka planned to destroy her, and begs him to let go, promising to reward her when she becomes a queen. Chernavka does not really feel for the princess of evil feelings: she only carried out the order of the mistress, which she did not like, so she willingly lets the princess and returns to the queen. The queen asks if her order is executed, and Chernavka deceives her, insisting that she tied the princess and left her to be eaten by wild beasts.
The king grieves about the missing daughter, and Elisha, the princess’s fiancé, goes in search of the missing bride.
The prince, wandering through the forest, goes to a large house, hidden in more often. After a while there are also hosts – seven brothers-heroes. The princess remains in their house, keeps housekeeping, but soon the bogatyrs offer her to choose one of them for husbands. The princess refuses, because she already has a fiance.
Meanwhile, the queen, believing that her stepdaughter had long been torn by wolves, again starts a conversation with a magic mirror and learns that the princess is alive. The queen threatens to get the truth from her maid and decides to ruin her stepdaughter herself.
To do this, she disguises herself as an old beggar and goes to the forest, to the house of the seven heroes, called the princess’s brothers. The princess, without suspecting anything, welcomes the stranger cordially; Only the guard dog, having smelled the evil, loudly barked at the disguised queen and was torn from the leash. The princess gives an imaginary beggar, and she gives her a beautiful apple. But in fact it is soaked in poison, and hardly a princess bites off a... piece, as it falls lifeless. The heroes return. The dog in their eyes swallows the poisoned apple and dies. The brothers understand that the princess died because of someone’s anger and envy. First they are going to bury her, but the princess seems not dead, but asleep: so the brothers put her in a crystal coffin and hang it in a mountain cave.
The wicked queen finally hears from the mirror the long-awaited answer that she is the most beautiful in the world.
The princess’s groom is looking for her around the world, but nowhere is the missing bride found. Finally he asks about it from those who see everything – the sun, the month and the wind. The sun and the month do not know anything about the fate of the princess; and only the wind, the eternal wanderer, tells the prince Elisha about a mountain cave in which a crystal coffin hangs on six chains. In it, says the wind, is your bride.
The sad prince goes to the mountain to take another look at his bride. From desperation, he breaks the coffin, and the princess suddenly comes to life. The prince and the princess return to her father.
At this time the queen converses again with the mirror and again hears that the princess is more beautiful than her. In a fit of rage, the queen smashes the mirror. When meeting with the princess, the queen dies of anger and envy. The fairy tale ends with the wedding of the princess and the prince.
The plot taken by Pushkin for the basis of the tale has deep roots. A similar plot can be found in Zhukovsky’s ballad “The Sleeping Princess” and in the folk German fairy tale, which in the literary treatment of the Brothers Grimm in different translations is called “The Snow Maiden” or “Snow White”. Although there are a number of differences between Pushkin’s “Tales of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights” and other works in which the same plot was used, the meaning of these works does not practically change from them. As in most fairy tales, in the end good triumphs over evil: the princess marries a loved one, and her stepmother dies. But Pushkin’s fairy tale is brighter than in the fairy tale of the Brothers Grimm, the moral qualities of the heroes are manifested: the loyalty of the princess to his chosen one, the desire of the prince to find his beloved and devotion to the watchdog, dying of a poisoned apple. In addition, in Pushkin’s tale, the evil stepmother dies for an unknown reason, that is, as a result of a high court. The way she ends her life in “Snow White”, suggests that the queen is overtaken by the stepdaughter, her husband and the girlfriends of gnomes who make her dance in red-hot iron shoes.