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Literature / Vasilissa the Beautiful

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"Vasilissa the Beautiful" is a Russian Fairy Tale. Vasilissa is the youngest, and a stepdaughter, and her stepmother and stepsisters set her tasks she manages with her mother's blessing and the doll her dead mother gave her. When she comes of age, all the young men wish to marry her, rather than her older stepsisters, which the stepmother forbids. Finally, having sent her into the woods many times in hopes that Baba Yaga would eat her, she has her sent directly to the witch to get fire after they had deliberately quenched all their fires.

She finds her in a hut set on chicken legs, surrounded by skulls on posts that glow at night. Baba Yaga sets her Impossible Tasks, but when she finds out that Vasilissa succeeds with the help of her mother's blessing, she evicts her, giving her a lantern made from a skull for fire, because no one with a blessing can stay with her.


When she returned, she found that the stepmother and stepsisters had been unable to light a fire all the time she was gone. The witch's skull quickly set the entire house on fire and burned it to the ground with the stepmother and stepsisters.

Vasilissa found shelter with an old woman and began to spin flax and weave the thread. When the old woman brought it to market, she brought to the Tsar, who could not find seamstresses capable of sewing it. It was brought back to Vasilissa, who could. Whereupon the Tsar insisted on seeing her, fell in love, and married her.

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Vasilissa the Beautiful provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The inability to light fires. Then, Vasilissa brings back fire and it does last... long enough to burn her step-family into ash.
  • Impossible Task: Baba Yaga sets them.
  • Karmic Death: The stepmother and stepsisters send Vasilissa to Baba Yaga in the hopes that she'd be killed. She comes back with a lantern that incinerates the three of them.
  • Living Toys: Vasilissa is comforted and advised by her childhood doll, which also helps her with her Impossible Tasks.
  • The Lost Woods: Where Baba Yaga lives.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Vasilissa does it both before and after her adventure.
  • Uriah Gambit: The stepmother sends Vasilissa to get fire from Baba Yaga, fully expecting her to die in the attempt.
  • Wedlock Block: Vassilissa is forbidden from marrying, despite having multiple suitors, because her stepmother doesn't want her to marry before her older stepsisters do.
    Never shall the younger be wed before the older ones!


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