The Master & The Margarita & All the Other Strange Guests at Satan’s Ball…

Look at me, getting my blog in on time. (Gives self hi-five) 🙂

So let me begin by saying the last two weeks have been by far the most enjoyable in terms of arts one reading material (thus far!). I am not gonna lie, I found the master & the margarita very difficult to get into at first, what with all the frustratingly similar Russian surnames (Ivan vs. Ivanovich, come on..), but in the end I am glad I stuck it out.

The imagery in this novel is nothing short of astounding. I really found it comparable (and this is just my opinion, so don’t yell at me too much) to Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf, particularly the famous “magic theater” sequence in Hesse’s novel vs. the theatrical scenes, Satan’s Ball and general supernatural comedy found throughout the Master & the Margarita.

Speaking of Satan’s Ball, I found that to be one of the most interesting sections of the entire book, for several reasons (not only for the copious amount of naked women present in that chapter…):

After attending the lecture today, I finally understand the parallel between Margarita’s character in faust comitting infanticide and the sympathy shown by Margarita in Bulgakov’s book towards the similarly predicamental character of Frieda, which makes for an interesting connection and allusion between the two that I would not have otherwise grasped.

However, the main reason why I am writing my blog post about this particular section of the novel is due to all other characters that Margarita meets at Satan’s Ball and their significance in understanding the play.

I am unclear as to why the author chose these particular people to appear at the ball (there’s always a reason!). Several characters come to mind:

Firstly we have the different orchestras, ranging from “the orchestra of about 150 men” (262) led by the waltz king, to the jazz band in the next room, finally to the orchestra of apes. I assume that the former two symbolize a much longed for artistic freedom in Russia at the time, but I am unclear as to why they are replaced by an orchestra of monkeys. Hmm…

Next  we have Mr Jacques, Earl Robert & Madame Tofana. I am unclear as to why the author chose these particular people for the ball. Perhaps they each symbolize a specific trait of something mocked or forbidden in the Soviet Union at the time?

I could list several more characters that perplex me in the same way, but I believe that they are most likely inserted for similar satirical, allusive or time-period-sensitive reasons.

I have one final question to ask anyone brave enough to read this blog:

Since Margarita sold her soul to the devil in a sense, and at the very least, serves the devil & black magic, can she be viewed as a typical protagonist? I have wondered this for sometime and am interested in hearing opinions in seminar.

– DB out.

Antigone’s Act: A Stand For Justice or Wanton Selfishness?`

Even before Monday’s enlightening lecture, when I had no idea what 80% of Antigone’s claim was about, one point in  particular stood out for me: If, as Butler says, Antigone was not motivated by the household gods, but instead acted out of incestuous love for her brother, then is not her act, by definition, selfish?

Antigone is given such high praise as this martyr for justice and individuality, while ironically, should the above statement be true, her act of defiance was nothing more than an act of passion, blind and unthinking.

This explanation would help to explain her absolute refusal to bend or break, as well as her idiotic (in my opinion) refutation of life. Similar blindness and wanton disregard for the safety of themselves and others around them can be found in many romantics throughout literature’s history.

Finally, as Butler says, this “law” that Antigone invokes, has but one application, and therefore is not universal. This leads to my most perplexing question of all: If Antigone’s act is selfish, careless, motivated by love (lust) & frankly a little crazy, then why does, as Tiresias says on P. 115 (my book is a different edition), “the whole city agree with her” (I’m paraphrasing here to fit the context better, but you get the idea)?

What makes the city side with this woman, who at the time had no right to speak out, who is invoking a non-existent law, which inevitably causes much trouble and bloodshed?