Sunday, March 20, 2016

Russian Folktales: The Golden Fish

The Golden Fish is a Russian folktale from "Old Peter's Russian Folktales" about the dangers of wanting more than you need. The story involves an old poor couple who live by the sea in relative contentment. The old man fishes for their food every day while his wife takes care of the hut and prepares the fish that he catches. After a long day of catching nothing, he casts his net one last time and it feels heavy with fish. Much to his surprise, it contains only a single golden fish that begs to be releases in exchange for granting wishes. The old man wishes for nothing, as he cannot think of anything that he needs. He returns home empty-handed and tells his wife of what had happened. The wife sends him back many times with increasing demands for the fish, going from a loaf of bread, to a trough to store the bread, to a new hut, a palace, to become tsaritza, and finally ending with the demand to become ruler of the seas as well. All the while, she treats her husband worse and worse as her life improves vastly. The fish, possibly noticing how the man is being treated or simply becoming tired of granting these wishes refuses to respond to the last demand and the old man returns home to find his wife and possessions back to normal, as if none of the wishes had been granted in the first place.

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