The Cavalry Maiden
Nadezhda Durova and Her Freedom
The Cavalry Maiden, by: Nadezhda Durova and translated by Mary Fleming Zirin, is a journal about a Russian officer in the Napoleonic Wars. Nadezhda Durova is a woman who left home at age twenty-three to join a regiment. Every since a young age Durova was interested in nature and things that were young men interest. It is believed that this stemmed from not being loved by her mother. She was attached to her father, who was a captain of a regiment, showed her the proper love. When her mother did not want her, he kept her on his side and let her ride horses and played with pistols. The women in the eighteenth century Russia had little freedom. They could only participate in certain activities, they had to be chaperoned at all times, and they could never travel or live on their own. Durova had more freedom once she ran away from home, disguised herself as a man, and joined the cavalry. As a young girl Nadezhda always like to be in the woods and surrounded by danger. For example, “One day Mama and some ladies went for an outing into the dense pine forest…this was the first time in my life that I had been taken out into the open where I could see dense forest…I could barely catch my breath for joy, and we no sooner came into the forest than I, out of my mind with rapture, immediately ran off and kept running…I ran, frisked, picked flowers, and climbed to the tips of tall trees” (6). This made her mother fly into a “violent rage” as she mentions. When she returned home her mother punished her and she had to sort bobbins and set pins. Most girls her age had the skills to bobbin lace but she did not. Her skills were those of a male. When she joined her regiment wandering off and not being responsible or smart was look down upon, especially by her sergeant. Durova points out that, “My sergeant was losing his patience, and my comrades were angry with me. They all told me that they would abandon me on the...
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