“Days of a Russian Noblewoman” is a translated memoir originally written by a Russian noblewoman named Anna Labzina. Anna’s memoir gives a unique perspective of the private life and gender roles of noble families in Russia. Anna sees the male and female gender as similar in nature, but not in morality and religiosity. She sees men as fundamentally different in morality and religiosity because of their capability to be freely dogmatic, outspoken, and libertine. Anna implies throughout her memoir that woman in this society have the capacity to shape and control their lives through exuding a modest, submissive, and virtuous behavior in times of torment. Through her marriage, Labzina discovers that her society is highly male centered.
Anna transcribes her memories in a way that transitions from being able to love freely to being forced to love Alexander Karmyshev out of obligation; this was an arranged marriage by her mother. Anna sees the role of a noblewomen as being completely submissive towards their husbands even under unbearable conditions. The lessons learned from her mother helped shape and control her life. Labzina’s mother instilled the lessons of submission and survival in her mind before departing. Her mother’s motivation for teaching her these things was so that elite people would intercede on her behalf through respect for her. Her mother’s teachings were to:
“Respect your husband as your master, obey him, and love him with all your heart, even if he acts badly towards you…Don’t pay attention to flirtations of men…Conduct yourself so no man would be so bold as to say something indecent…Hide nothing from her [mother-in law] that is in your heart, you will be spared many misfortunes” (p.16, p.23).
During this time period, a woman would spend most of her life within the family center and confines of the home. A woman was dependent on marriage because they were unable to have a profession. However, Anna finds ways to shape and control her life. For example, Alexander wanted to bring his niece Vera Alekseevna, his love affair, to accompany them wherever they traveled in the military. Anna shares this concern to the mother-in-law and she doesn’t allow it. Anna’s mother-in-law intercedes on her behalf because of her modest and virtuous characteristics and knowing of Alexander’s and Vera’s immoral actions torment her. The mother-in-law states:
“If you say…that you will not go without her [Vera], then I must inform you that in that case I shall stay here and will not allow your wife to go with you. She cannot live anywhere without me. This is my decision, and understand it is firm” (p. 47).
The mother-in-law uses this branch of authority in which Anna must be around her to keep Vera from accompanying them. Through this, Anna gained control of her life in deciding not to live in a marriage that was immoral in the site of God.
Alexander lived a lifestyle characterized as Russian Voltarianism . Anna doesn’t complain to her husband about his...