The Power of Darkness
Leo Tolstoy
Novels
3:26 h
Level 7
The Power of Darkness (Russian: Власть тьмы) is a five-act drama by Leo Tolstoy. Written in 1886, the play's production was forbidden in Russia until 1902, mainly through the influence of Konstantin Pobedonostsev. In spite of the ban, the play was unofficially produced and read numerous times. The central character is a peasant, Nikita, who seduces and abandons a young orphan girl Marinka; then the lovely Anisija murders her own husband to marry Nikita. He impregnates his new stepdaughter, then, under his wife's influence, murders the baby. On the day of his stepdaughter's marriage, he surrenders himself and confesses to the police.

The Power of Darkness

Or
If a Claw is Caught the Bird is Lost

A Drama in Five Acts
(1886)

by
Leo Tolstoy

Translators: Louise Maude, Aylmer Maude


The final scene in the Theatre Guild’s production of count Lyoff Tolstoy’s “The power of darkness,” from design by Lee Simonson

Characters

PETER IGNÁTITCH. A well-to-do peasant, 42 years old, married for the second time, and sickly.

ANÍSYA. His wife, 32 years old, fond of dress.

AKOULÍNA. Peter’s daughter by his first marriage, 16 years old, hard of hearing, mentally undeveloped.

NAN (ANNA PETRÓVNA). His daughter by his second marriage, 10 years old.

NIKÍTA. Their labourer, 26 years old, fond of dress.

AKÍM. Nikíta’s father, 50 years old, a plain-looking, God-fearing peasant.

MATRYÓNA. His wife and Nikíta’s mother, 50 years old.

MARÍNA. An orphan girl, 22 years old.

MARTHA. Peter’s sister.

MÍTRITCH. An old labourer, ex-soldier.

SIMON. Marína’s husband.

BRIDEGROOM. Engaged to Akoulína.