LITERATUR-IRD (Introduction, Review, Discussion): Tale of Shemyaka’s Trial

The Story of Shemyakin Court from

Welcome to my first episode of Literatur-IRD (Introduction, Review, Discussion). The title explains the author’s purpose of telling various works of literature from countries in the world so that readers can gain new learning and express their discussion of knowledge in the moral of the story.

Before jumping into the message and literature discussion, the author will re-tell the story and introduce some history that can be related to the context of the story.

This story bears the famous saying that the “Shemyakin Court” denotes an unfair trial. Picking up the main characters as rich and poor brothers; this past century tale produces parody plots and artistic features.

“Tale of Shemyaka’s Trial”

There lived two brothers: the poor and the rich. One day, the poor man kept begging to borrow the rich man’s horse to look for firewood. Eventually the rich lent it without giving it a yoke. The poor man hooked the firewood into his horse’s tail and whipped the horse to make it go faster.

Unexpectedly, the horse’s tail was squeezed by the gate of the rich man’s house and torn. The rich brother did not want to take his horse and wanted accountability from the poor. He took the matter to court later. To not pay taxes for the subpoena, the poor brother followed suit.

On the way to town, the two brothers spend the night at the house of the rich man’s friend, who is a priest. The host also welcomed the rich, but he did not give the poor dinner or bed. In his residence, leaning against the stairs handle, the poor man accidentally fell and crushed the priest’s son to death. The poor man’s problems escalated, and he could only follow them to court.

Arriving in the city, the poor brother decided to commit suicide and threw himself off the bridge. It turned out that his body hit and killed the father of one of the townspeople who, at that time, was on his way for treatment.

Now that the three victims have been brought to justice, the poor man is starting to show his wits. All the crime accusations fell on the poor man, leading the judge an encased stone. The judge thought the stone package contained gold, so he handed down a sentence in favor of the accused.

The judge’s decision for the rich was to let the horse stay with the poor until his tail grew again. The decision for the priest was to send the priest’s wife to the poor man until a child was born. Finally, the child abandoned by the father is that the child is allowed to kill the poor in the same way as his father was killed.

In the end, everyone paid money to the poor brother to keep the punishment from being carried out. Moreover, when the judge learned that the poor man had ordinary stones and not gold, he was relieved by his decision. If the court law harms the perpetrator, the poor man will kill him with a rock.

Source —, 2018. It is possible there are some differences in the elements in the story, but the outline is as written by the author.

The haunting story of greed and ignorance by exalting the intelligence of the poor.

“The Story of Shemyakin Court” from

Throughout the story, the journey of the unfortunate is told tragically. Everything the poor man did was a disaster. The plot is also further confused when Judge Shemyaka, a cunning and bounty pettifogger, appears in the story.

This story is presented in a simple form so that the reader can understand the ridiculousness of the decision. No wonder the three plaintiffs prefer to settle their problems out of court: to pay the poor people so they don’t force them to carry out the judge’s decision.

This story is also considered an ‘unfinished’ anecdote or exposition. What does it mean? This story seems to have no end, making the reader wait for what will happen to the victims until it finally arrives in court.

The plot in the trial itself is already an independent plot that answers the reader’s curiosity. Instead of suing for victims and stones that were considered bags of gold, the judge’s decision made Shemyaka realize her mistake.

In his analysis of, Judge Shemyaka was not angry when the poor brother unwrapped the stone. Turns out he was thanking God that he had “judged according to Him.”

Relation to Russian History

In the seventeenth century, Russian society reflected the trials of the time with the story of the Shemyaka Trial. In keeping with the legal practice of the day, the code of 1649 stated that the sentence reflected a crime. For example, murderers = perpetrators are executed, arson = perpetrators who burn, swallowing molten lead = perpetrators of counterfeiting.

So this Shemyaka trial is a parody of ancient Russian legal proceedings. We have seen from the plot of the novella, which is full of unexpected twists.

How does it relevant nowadays?

In my opinion, the courts are still full of bribery crimes, but they are more complex. Shemyaka also emphasizes the moral value that the writer mentioned above, which is to glorify the cunning of the poor as the perpetrators. As a result, justice is not achieved. Of course, this is not reflected in all cases, but you can definitely name at least 2 to 3.

What do you think?




Account held by JNG, an undergraduate student who loves to type and talk. Writes about social issues, literature review, poems, and personal development.

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Account held by JNG, an undergraduate student who loves to type and talk. Writes about social issues, literature review, poems, and personal development.

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