“The Magpie” of Herzen in brief summary

Three people are talking about the theater: the “Slav”, cropped in a circle, “European”, “not at all shorn,” and a young man standing outside the parties, cropped by a comb, which offers a topic for discussion: why Russia does not have good actresses. That the actresses are not good, everyone agrees, but everyone explains it according to his doctrine: the Slav speaks of the patriarchal modesty of the Russian woman, the European – about the emotional underdevelopment of the Russians, and for the cropped out for the comb the reasons are unclear. After all had time to speak out, a new character appears – a man of art and refutes theoretical calculations by example: he saw a great Russian actress, and, surprisingly, not in Moscow or St. Petersburg, but in a small provincial town. Follow the story artist.

Once when he was young he came to town N, hoping to enter the theater of the rich prince Skalinsky. Talking about the first performance

seen at the Skalinsky Theater, the artist almost echoes the “European”, although he shifts the accents in a significant way:

“There was something strained, unnatural in how courtyard people represented lords and princesses.” The heroine appears on stage in the second play – in the French melodrama “Soroka-thief” she plays the servant Anetu, unfairly accused of theft, and here in the game of the serf actress the narrator sees “that incomprehensible pride that develops on the brink of humiliation.” A lewd judge offers her “a loss of honor to buy freedom.” Execution, the “deep irony of the face” of the heroine is particularly striking to the observer; he also notes the unusual excitement of the prince. The play has a happy end – it is revealed that the girl is innocent, and the thief is forty, but the actress in the final plays a creature fatally exhausted.

The audience does not cause the actress and outrage the shocked and almost enamored narrator with vulgar remarks. Behind the scenes, where he rushed to tell her about his

admiration, he was explained that it can only be seen with the permission of the prince. The next morning the narrator goes for permission and in the office of the prince he meets, incidentally, the artist who played the lord the third day, almost in a straitjacket. The prince is kind to the narrator, because he wants to get him into his troupe, and explains the strictness of the orders in the theater with the excessive arrogance of the artists who are accustomed on the stage to the role of the nobles.

“Aneta” meets an art comrade as a native person and confesses before him. She seems to the narrator a “statue of graceful suffering,” he almost admires the way she “gracefully perishes.”

The landlord to whom she belonged from birth, seeing in her abilities, provided all opportunities to develop them and treated as free; he died suddenly, but did not take care of writing out vacation cards for his artists; they were sold from public auction to the prince.

The prince began to molest the heroine, she evaded; Finally an explanation occurred, and the offended prince said: “You are my fortress maid, not an actress.” These words acted on her so much that soon she was already consumptive.

The prince, without resorting to gross violence, petulantly annoyed the heroine: took the best roles, etc. Two months before the meeting with the narrator she was not allowed from the yard to the shops and insulted, suggesting that she was rushing to her lovers. The insult was intentional: her behavior was impeccable. “Well, Prince, here’s my hand, my word of honor, that in a year or so I will prove to you that the measures chosen by you are not enough!”

In this novel of the heroine, in all probability, the first and last, there was no love, but only despair; she did not say much about him. She became pregnant, most of all she was tormented by the fact that the child would be born serf; she hopes only for her imminent death and her child by the grace of God.

The narrator leaves in tears, and having found the prince’s offer to enter the troupe at favorable terms, leaves the city, leaving the invitation without an answer. Then he learns that “Aneta” died two months after the birth.

The agitated listeners are silent; the author compares them with the “beautiful tombstone” heroine. “All right,” said the Slav, rising, “but why did not she marry secretly? ..”

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“The Magpie” of Herzen in brief summary