Summary of “Ruslan and Lyudmila”

About the work

The poem “Ruslan and Lyudmila” by AS Pushkin is a fairy tale written in 1818-1820. The creation of the author’s work inspired Russian folk folklore, Russian epic novels and popular prints. Pushkin’s poem “Ruslan and Lyudmila” is full of elements of grotesque fiction, everyday vocabulary and good-natured irony of the author. According to literary critics, the work is a parody of the knightly romances and romantic ballads of Zhukovsky.

Main characters

Ruslan is a brave prince, Lyudmila’s fiancé, who rescued her from Chernomor.

Lyudmila is a princess, the youngest daughter of Prince Vladimir, Ruslan’s bride.

Chernomor – a hunchbacked dwarf with a long beard, “full-fledged possessor of the mountains,” kidnapped Lyudmila.

Finn – an old wizard, who helped Ruslan to find and save Lyudmila.

Other characters

Rogdai is a “brave warrior”,

one of Ruslan’s rivals.

Farlaf – “haughty arrogant, in the feasts no one defeated, but a modest warrior”, killed Ruslan and kidnapped Lyudmila.

Ratmir – “Khazar Khan Khan”, wanted to marry Lyudmila, but fell in love with another maiden.

Naina is beloved Finn, a witch.

Prince Vladimir is the prince of Kiev, Lyudmila’s father.


The author devotes his work to “beauties” – “the queens of his soul”. The poem begins with a description of a fairy-tale sea-shore – the magical world opens up to the reader, where the scientist cat, mermaid, goblin, Baba Yaga, Tsar Kashchei, knights and sorcerers live.

Canto the First

Prince Vladimir extradites his younger daughter Lyudmila for “Prince of the Brave Ruslan”. The festival is in full swing, the guests are listening to the song of the “sweet singer” Bayan, glorifying the newlyweds. However, not everyone is having fun, “in despondency, with a cloudy brow” three knights are sitting,

Ruslan’s rivals – Roghay, Farlaf, Ratmir.

After the feast, the young went to their quarters. Suddenly, a thunder sounded in the room, and “someone in the smoky depths / rose up blacker than the foggy mist”. Ruslan in desperation discovers that Lyudmila was missing. Having learned about what happened, Prince Vladimir promises to those who can find her, the hand of her daughter and half the kingdom. Ruslan, Roghay, Farlaf and Ratmir go in different directions in search of Lyudmila.

On the way, Ruslan notices a cave. Entering it, the knight sees a gray-haired old man reading a book. The elder tells him that Lyudmila was abducted by the “wizard terrible Chernomor.” The knight remains in the cave for the night, and the elder tells him his story. He was a “natural Finn”, a shepherd, in love with a very beautiful and proud girl Naina. However, she refused the young man. Then the Finn went to distant lands and ten years later returned victorious, throwing at the feet of a beloved treasure. But Naina again refused him. Finn decided to attract his beloved charms, for many years he studied in the woods of sorcerers and, finally, could fall in love with a woman. However, forty years have passed since their last meeting, and now there was not a young beauty in front of him, but a decrepit old woman, and even a sorceress. Finn escapes from the passion of a woman who has flared up to him and since then Naina has hated a man.

Canto the second

At this time, Rogdai decides to kill his main rival – Ruslan, and goes back. Farlaf, while dining near the stream, saw a knight rushing at him, was frightened and fled. When Rogdai, who believed that he was chasing Ruslan, caught up with him, he was disappointed and dismissed the knight.

On the way Rogdai met the old woman Nain, who showed him the way to Ruslan to the north. There was a witch and Farlaf – she advised him to return to Kiev, because from them “Lyudmila will not go away.”

After the abduction, Lyudmila was for a long time in a “painful oblivion.” The girl woke up in the rich chambers, like the house of Scheherazade. Three maidens for wonderful singing plaited Lyudmila scythe, put on her a pearl crown, azure sarafan and a pearl belt. However, the princess is very sad and yearn for Ruslan. She is not happy even with the magic garden, where she spends the whole day. At night, in her room unexpectedly enters “arapov long row.” They make a long beard, which belonged to a humpbacked dwarf, on the pillows. In fright Ludmila screamed and wanted to hit the dwarf, but he, trying to escape, was entangled in his own beard. The Arabs carried him away.

Ruslan leaves in a clean field, where a rider is rushing him with a spear. It was Rogdai. Ruslan defeats his rival, and Rogdai finds his death in the river.

Song of the third

In the morning, a winged serpent comes to Chernomor’s dwarf, which “suddenly Naino turned around.” A woman proposes to the sorcerer to make an alliance, and he agrees.

Chernomor finds out, Lyudmila is gone – she was not in the chambers or in the garden. The girl accidentally discovered the witch-hat of the sorcerer and now amused herself, hiding from the dwarf and his servants.

Ruslan leaves on the field of the old battle, dotted with bones, where he selects armor for himself, but does not find a worthy sword. Going further, the prince notices in a high hill on which the huge head of a warrior in a helmet is sleeping. Ruslan woke her head and she, angry, began to blow on the knight. A strong whirlwind carried Ruslan back, but he contrived and dug his spear into the tongue of his head, and then overturned it. The prince wanted to “cut her nose and ears,” but her head asked not to do this, telling her story. She used to belong to a giant, who was very envious of his brother-dwarf Chernomor. Once Chernomor learned that there was a sword that would cut off the giant’s head, and his beard. The giant got hold of the blade, and while the brother slept, the dwarf cut off his head, setting her here to guard the sword. The head asks Ruslan to take the blade to himself and revenge Chernomor.

Canto Four

Ratmir travels to the valley and sees a castle on the rocks in front of him. The knight sees a beautiful virgin walking along the wall singing a song. The young Khan knocks at the castle and is greeted by the red maidens. Ratmir remains in the castle.

Lyudmila all this time wandered around the sorcerer’s possessions, yearning for her lover. “The cruel passion wounded” Chernomor decides to catch Lyudmila, turning into a wounded Ruslan. The girl rushes to her lover, but after discovering the substitution, falls without feelings. Suddenly, the horn rang.

Canto the Fifth

As it turned out, Ruslan was called to the battle of the sorcerer. At the height of the battle, the knight grabs Chernomor by the beard and they rise to the sky. Ruslan did not let the sorcerer’s beard go for three days, and the one who was tired went down to the ground. Immediately, the knight bared his sword and cut off the beard of the sorcerer, after which he lost his magic power.

Ruslan returns to the possession of Chernomor, but can not find Lyudmila. Grieving, the knight begins to destroy everything around with a sword and, with an unintentional blow, knocks off the invisibility cap from the princess. Ruslan falls at the feet of the girl, but she is bewitched and asleep.

Unexpectedly, a virtuous Finn appears alongside. He advises to take Lyudmila to Kiev, where the princess wakes up. The knight does this.

On the way back, Ruslan tells the giant’s head that he has avenged, and she quietly dies. At the quiet river the knight meets a fisherman with a sweet virgin, in which he learns Ratmir. Former rivals wish each other happiness.

Farlaf is Naina. The witch takes the knight to the sleeping man at the feet of Lyudmila Ruslan. Farlaf “thrust thrice cold steel” into the opponent’s chest and kidnaps the princess.

Canto Six

Farlaf comes to Kiev, but Lyudmila continues to sleep. Soon the rebellion of the Pechenegs begins. At this time, to the murdered Ruslan comes Finn with dead and living water and revitalizes the knight. The wizard sends the prince to defend Kiev and gives him a ring that will help to spoil Lyudmila.

Ruslan leads the army and defeats Pecheneg. After the victory, the prince went into the chambers, touched Ludmila’s chelas with a ring and the girl woke up. Ruslan and Lyudmila forgave Farlaf, and the dwarf was taken to the palace.


In the poem “Ruslan and Lyudmila” Pushkin reveals an eternal conflict – the opposition of good and evil. All the characters of the work are ambiguous – they have both positive and negative sides, but they choose which way to go. In the final of the poem, the author, following the traditional fairy tale, shows that good always overcomes evil.

A brief retelling of “Ruslan and Lyudmila” will help familiarize with the plot of the work, as well as prepare for the lesson of Russian literature.

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Summary of “Ruslan and Lyudmila”