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.

1 thought on “The Master & The Margarita & All the Other Strange Guests at Satan’s Ball…

  1. Good questions about the choices for the guests at the ball. They did all do something bad, though, right? Some were poisoners, some were counterfeiters, traitors, brothel owners, alchemists and sorcerers, etc. So at least that part of them all being invited to the ball because they would presumably be considered evil makes sense. But why those particular historical persons I don’t know. And poisoners seems to be a common theme–lots of poisoners amongst the guests. Of course, poison is also a pretty big theme in the novel: Pilate asks for poison when his head hurts so much (24), the narrator repeats Pilate’s words (61), Margarita says she would have poisoned herself if she hadn’t met the Master when she did (141), Margarita says she wanted to poison the critic Latunsky (145), and, of course, the Master and Margarita are killed by poison before they go off to live in peace after death.

    I’m not sure what to make of the prevalence of references to poison in the novel; it’s just something I noticed, and that comes out in the guests at the ball, too.

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