Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

In 1830, while Pushkin was in seclusion at Boldino, he wrote Povesti Belkina (1831; The Tales of Belkin, 1947), an experiment with a new form for him, prose narration. Actually he was breaking new ground for his nation; these five tales, of which “The Blizzard” is one, are among the first Russian short stories. Tolstoy himself credited them with having influenced his own style.

As Pushkin began writing narrative prose, he was in turn influenced by Sir Walter Scott. Like Scott, he headed his stories with suitable quotations, used fictitious narrators, and created highly romantic situations and characters. In Scott’s St. Ronan’s Well (1823), as in “The Blizzard,” the heroine does not realize that she has married the wrong man until after the ceremony. Like Scott in The Bride of Lammermoor (1819), Pushkin uses the providential hand of nature (in both cases, a storm is used) to effect the action. The blizzard prevents Vladimir from arriving at his wedding on time and brings Burmin to the church where he thoughtlessly marries the unheeding Marya.

Pushkin, however, makes the outcome of the narrative depend also on the choices his characters make. Vladimir chooses to send his servant to bring Marya to the church rather than doing so himself. Burmin irresponsibly takes advantage of the wedding party’s ignorance when they mistake him for the groom. Later, after being wounded in battle and falling in...

(The entire section is 431 words.)