INTRODUCTION The short folktale The Man Who Danced with the Rusalky tells the story of a man who dances with rusalky after being told not to and is punished accordingly. By analyzing the plot, the symbols, and characters in the story, one can see how the tale, while brief, argues for several codes of behaviour and beliefs.
The story is quite brief and its plot is simple. Given that it is portrayed as a real event, it has messages that exist both on the surface and more profoundly. Before the plot begins, readers are told about the existence of rusalky. It describes their origins as coming from a death that “is never a good death.” The exact wording there, while translated, implies not only that rusalky are real, but that they exist right now. Natalie Kononenko says, “Legends are stories that are told as if they were true.” It is said that the rusalka “hide among the branches so that she cannot be seen—only her reflection in the water below is visible… When he bends to take a closer look, the rusalka… drags him under the water.” This serves as a type of foreshadowing with the intent of getting listeners’ minds ready for what may happen. The plot begins with the introduction of the protagonist: “a young man named Oleksandr.” He wants to see rusalky. In fact, “it was all he could talk about or even think about.” He considers seeing one, and even though everyone told him “not to do it,” he would “quietly continue his scheming.” Eventually, he sees the oldest woman