Anìsya, the second wife of a Russian peasant, succumbs to the charms of Nikíta, a laborer on her farm. With Nikíta’s mother Matryóna, she plots to murder her sickly husband, claim his money, and marry Nikíta. However, Anìsya’s idyllic vision of a life with Nikíta is destroyed when her new husband begins to drink heavily, verbally and physically abuse her, and pursue liaisons with village girls (including Anìsya’s own stepdaughter). When the girl becomes pregnant, Nikíta, Anìsya, and Matryóna venture further into metaphoric darkness in order to save themselves from village judgment. But their lies cannot go on forever; despite the power of darkness, the truth always comes to light. A superb example of Russian Naturalism, Leo Tolstoy’s The Power of Darkness is a haunting and symbolic psychological exploration of what is most dark in human nature.
The Power of Darkness guide sections