The image of a peasant in Russian literature

In literary works we find an image of people, their way of life, feelings. By the XVII-XVIII centuries in Russia there were two classes: peasants and nobles – with a completely different culture, mentality and even language. That is why in the works of some Russian writers, the image of the peasants is there, and others do not. For example, Griboedov, Zhukovsky and some other masters of the word did not touch on the theme of the peasantry in their works.

However, Krylov, Pushkin, Gogol, Goncharov, Turgenev, Nekrasov, Yesenin and others created a whole gallery of immortal images of peasants. Their peasants are very different people, but there is much in common between the views of writers on the peasant. All of them were unanimous in that the peasants are toilers, creative and talented people, idleness leads to a moral disintegration of the individual.

This is the meaning of the fable of IA Krylov “Dragonfly and the Ant”. In allegorical form, the fabulist

expressed his view of the moral ideal of the working peasant (Ant), whose motto is to work tirelessly in the summer to provide food for themselves in the cold winter, and to the slacker (Dragonfly). In the winter, when Dragonfly came to the Mur with a request for help, he refused “jumping”, although, probably, had the opportunity to help her.

On the same subject, much later, ME Saltykov-Shchedrin wrote a fairy tale “About how a man fed two generals.” However, Saltykov-Shchedrin solved this problem differently than Krylov: loafers-generals, having got to an uninhabited island, could not support themselves, and the peasant, a man voluntarily not only provided the generals with everything necessary, but also made a rope and linked himself. Indeed, in both works the conflict is the same: between the worker and the parasite, – but he decides in different ways. The hero of Krylov’s fable does not give himself offense, but the peasant from the tales of Saltykov-Shchedrin voluntarily deprives himself of freedom and does everything possible for the generals incapable of labor.


Pushkin’s works there are not so many descriptions of peasant life and character, but he could not help but capture very significant details in his works. For example, in describing the peasant war in the “Captain’s Daughter” Pushkin showed that it involved the children of peasants who left agriculture, engaged in robbery and theft, such a conclusion can be drawn from Chumakov’s song about the “little son of a peasant son” who “stole” and ” robbery held, “and then was hanged. In the fate of the hero of the song, the rebels learn their fate, feel their doom. Why? Because they have left labor on earth for bloodshed, and Pushkin does not accept violence.

Peasants from Russian writers have a rich inner world: they know how to love. In the same work, Pushkin shows the image of serf Savelich, who, although a slave by position, is endowed with a sense of dignity. He is ready to give his life for his young master, whom he brought up. This image resembles two images of Nekrasov: with Savely, the hero of the Holy Trinity, and with Yakov the faithful, a servant exemplary. Savely was very fond of his grandson Demochka, looked after him and, appearing as the indirect cause of his death, went into the woods, and then to the monastery. Yakov the faithful loves his nephew as much as Saveliy likes Demochka, and loves his master, as Savyelitch loves Grinev. However, if Savelich did not have to sacrifice his life for Petrusha, Jacob, torn by the conflict between his beloved people, committed suicide.

Another important detail is in Pushkin’s “Dubrovsky.” We are talking about the contradictions between the villages: “They (the peasants of Troyekurov) were vainglorious over the wealth and glory of their master and in their turn allowed themselves much in relation to their neighbors, hoping for his strong patronage.” Is not this theme sounded in Yesenin’s “Anna Snegina”, when the rich inhabitants of Radov and the poor peasants of the village of Kriushi were enmity between themselves: “They’re into axes, we’re identity”. As a result, the headman dies. This death is condemned by Esenin. The topic of the killing by the peasants of the manager was also from Nekrasov: Saveliy and other peasants looted the German Vogel alive. However, unlike Yesenin, Nekrasov does not condemn this murder.

With the work of Gogol in fiction, the concept of a peasant-hero appeared: the coachman Mikheev, the brickworker Milushkin, the cobbler Maxim Telyatnikov and others. After Gogol, Nekrasov also had a pronounced theme of heroism (Saveliy). Heroic peasants are also in Goncharov. It is interesting to compare the hero of Gogol carpenter Stepan Prohib and carpenter Luka from Goncharov’s Oblomov. Gogol’s master is “that hero who would be fit for the guards”, he was distinguished by “soberness exemplary,” and the worker from Oblomovka was so famous that he made a porch that, although staggering since the construction, stood sixteen years.

In general, in the work of Goncharov in a peasant village everything is quiet and sleepy. It’s a busy and useful time only in the morning, and then dinner comes, a universal afternoon nap, tea, classes, a harmony play, a balalaika at the gate. There are no incidents in Oblomovka. Peace only broke the peasant widow Marina Kulkova, who gave birth “at the time of four babies.” Her fate is similar to the difficult life of Matryona Korchagina, the heroine of Nekrasov’s poem “To Whom in Russia Live Well,” which “has that year, then the children.”

Turgenev, like other writers, speaks of the talent of the peasant, his creative nature. In the story “Singers” Jacob Turk and the rower compete in singing for the eighth of beer, and then the author shows a bleak picture of drunkenness. The same theme will be heard in “Who lives well in Russia” Nekrasov: Yakim Naga “works until death, until he drinks to death…”.

Quite different motifs are heard in the story “Burmistre” by Turgenev. He is developing the image of a despot-manager. This phenomenon will be condemned also by Nekrasov: he will name the sin of Gleb the elder, who sold the freestyle of other peasants, the most serious.

Russian writers were unanimous in that the majority of peasants have talent, dignity, creativity, diligence. However, among them there are people who can not be called moral. The spiritual fall of these people was mainly due to idleness and material wealth, the acquired and the misfortunes of others.,

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The image of a peasant in Russian literature