God loves fools for a reason. And fools are not just lucky. Oh, this Ivan: fool, lazy, dirty. And why only this impractical, superfluous person becomes the main fabulous lucky man?
Why is everyone helping him? Why does the beautiful princess fall in love with him? .. Yes, she does not just fall in love, but she gets married and at the wedding feast wipes the snot flowing in three streams to her fool-husband ?!
For laughter's sake
The image of a stupid and lucky little brother is a wandering one. It is also found in the oral folklore of European peoples, in Chinese folklore, tales of North American Indians, tales of African, Australian and northern tribes. But only on Russian soil did he become so popular: Ivan the Fool is almost our main fairy-tale hero. The fact, which may seem at least strange, in fact reveals more than weighty reasons.
The first reason for the popularity of Ivan the Fool is his comic character. After all, one of the main tasks of a fairy tale is to entertain the listener. And the storyteller (many of whom were buffoons) does everything so that the peasants, listening to him on a rainy evening in a tavern or in a stuffy afternoon in line at the mill, have as much fun as possible!
The buckets move by themselves, the stove travels through the city and crushes people, the club itself beats the royal messengers. The situations are stupid, grotesque, because there is a fool in their center. And, at the same time, situations are typical for folk laughter culture: we can easily find them in popular European fairy tales or scientific works devoted to the nature of laughter. With certain reservations, Ivan the Fool himself can be called a buffoon.
Equally important is the social aspect of the fool's image. He is the younger brother in a patriarchal family living on a common household. He has practically no rights. In fact, he is the last person in this world. That is why, with undisguised pleasure, the peasants listened to how this oppressed hero, unmercenary, dealt with the powerful of that world: not only with older brothers, but even with important officials, princes and - what is it - the king himself.
But a fairy tale would not be a fairy tale if it boiled down to only one search for social justice. According to some theories, the tale of the younger brother is a reflection of the way of life of a medieval peasant family (residual phenomena of this way could be found at the end of the 19th century). Rather: the peculiarity of the tales about the younger brother was due to the inheritance law that existed at that time, according to which, when the property of the deceased head of the family was divided, most of the economy went to the youngest son. But in the case when the heirs continued to run a joint household, the eldest remained the head of the family.
Also in the fairy tale: older brothers have more rights within the family in comparison with Ivan, but as soon as a conflict occurs between them, forcing Ivan to leave the family (even for a while), "luck" passes to him, and at the end of the tale it is he becomes the owner of all "earthly goods".
The fool is the holy fool
The third reason for love for Ivan is his resemblance to the holy fools. There is nothing surprising in such a comparison, if we remember that one of the synonyms of the word “holy fool” in Dahl's dictionary is “fool”. Ivan is a fool, that is, a madman, although in his image the features of both fool-fools and ascetics, who acted as fools "for Christ's sake", were combined.
Foolishness was basically anti-aesthetic, gravitating towards the ugly. Etymologically, "holy fool" goes back to the word "freak". Ivan the Fool is also described as a freak: he always lies on the stove, dirty, torn, rubbing snot on his face.
Ivan has similarities with the holy fools and the paradox of his speech: "What, Ivanushka thinks to himself, " after all, the horse has four legs and the table also has four, so the table will run by itself. " In addition to the obvious comic, there is something more in such statements. Ivan turns the phenomena upside down, as did the holy fools, who spoke in riddles, or even babbled nonsense. Thus, the blessed "cleansed" the eternal truths from everyday husks and monotony of rituals. It was as if they were shaking the dusty carpet to make it brighter and cleaner. Or - they put the problem that was on the head back on their feet.
The nature of Ivan's laziness is also interesting. It is remarkable that his practical, active brothers, despite their best efforts, cannot achieve the goal. And Ivan does not seem to be doing anything: he lies on the stove and enjoys the fruits of the labors of his magical assistants. But in a fairy tale it is not laziness itself that is sung. If the brothers are guided by reason, then Ivan is driven by instinct: he walks where his eyes look, his legs lead, etc. In a fairy tale, the practical is opposed to the intuitive. And the second wins: because Ivan does not live by his powerless mind, but relies on God's will.
Fool - priest
The connection of the fool with the other world is obvious: it is not for nothing that he lies on the stove, which is at the same time the center of the house (the center of the world) and the connection with the dead. It is not for nothing that magic animals help him - the very ones that were totemic in primitive times. It is not for nothing that in many fairy tales he is the only speaking character, sometimes speaking nonsense. Remembering that the fairy tale was born from the ritual, we can restore Ivan's role in it. He is a person who communicates with the gods, that is, a priest. Therefore, the other world helps him, so he turns out to be the main character in the fairy tale, in every sense of the word.