Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District

by Nikolai Leskov

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 431

Katerina Lvovna lived a boring life in the rich house of her father-in-law during the five years of marriage to her unaffectionate husband; but, as often happens, no one paid the slightest attention to this boredom of hers.

Katerina—like the original Lady Macbeth—is childless, bored, and ambitious. This quote locates her boredom as the root of her problem. One theme of the novel is the plight of women like Katerina in a society that gives them nothing to do and no outlet for their desires.

Sergei embraced the young mistress and pressed her firm breasts to his red shirt. Katerina Lvovna was just trying to move her shoulders, but Sergei lifted her off the floor, held her in his arms, squeezed her, and gently sat her down on the overturned measuring tub.

The two have wrestled and although she is strong, we see Sergei overpower Katerina in what is clearly an erotic prelude to the love affair that will soon begin.

Katerina Lvovna was now ready, for the sake of Sergei, to go through fire, through water, to prison, to the cross. He made her fall so in love with him that her devotion to him knew no measure. She was out of her mind with happiness; her blood boiled, and she could no longer listen to anything.

This is a description of Katerina's passion, but Sergei is more interested in her money than in Katerina herself.

Katerina Lvovna started out quite briskly, but she had only just taken her place in line when she turned green and began to shake. Everything became dark in her eyes; all her joints ached and went limp. Before Katerina Lvovna stood Sonetka in those all too familiar dark blue stockings with bright clocks.

Sergei manipulates Katerina into giving him her new stockings in prison by complaining about how terribly his feet ache in the cold. The above quote shows Katerina sick with emotional pain as she realizes he lied to her and took her stockings only for the sake of his new love, Sonetka.

Katerina Lvovna was trembling. Her roving gaze became fixed and wild. Her arms reached out somewhere into space once or twice and dropped again. Another moment—and she suddenly began to sway all over, not taking her eyes from the dark waves, bent down, seized Sonetka by the legs, and in one sweep threw the girl and herself overboard.

As Sergei's mockery becomes too much for her, Katerina murders Sonetka and commits suicide by flipping them both into the water, her physical strength aiding her one last time.

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